The Inner Bottom Line ®, A Column about Ethical Dilemmas and Personal Choices
“What’s the Value of Your Legacy?”
Who are the nincompoops that allow their dogs to poop on the sidewalk and then stroll away and leave the mess there for you and I to step in?
It’s a dilemma that was broached while making my morning walk with my puppy in the company of a beloved neighbor who was walking her two precious dogs. This may not seem like an ethical dilemma to you, but I can promise you, it is. It’s about power and control. It’s about arrogance and disrespect and unfairness.
One Inner Bottom Line premise, Responsible Power, means taking responsibility for the impact our words and actions have on the world around us. Imagine that. A world in which each person just took responsibility for their own actions and choices and treated others with honesty, fairness, respect and integrity. Wow! Wouldn’t you like to experience that?
Another premise states that abuse of any kind is not allowed on The Inner Bottom Line. It works like this: If anyone crosses your boundaries and fails to treat you with respect, fairness or honesty and you do no NOT speak up for yourself and say “No, please stop, that’s not okay,” then it becomes a form of self-abuse and is not allowed.
So listen up. You know who you are. Why do you think you have the right to soil public space and think it’s all right? It makes you just like those who have loud, private conversations on their cell phones in public, basically forcing everyone within reach to listen to their most intimate thoughts and feelings, or those who litter or pollute. It’s all a form of disrespect for others as well as the public space that belongs to us all, and it’s behavior that’s not only in poor taste, but also inappropriate, annoying and offensive, even embarrassing.
To leave behind or allow any of your trash, be it poop, food containers, cigarettes, bags, bottles, cans, or – BP are you listening? – gushing oil, to ruin or obliterate parks, streets, lawns, beaches, game preserves or bodies of water, reflects a lack of consideration and respect that’s weighing this world down to the point where Mother Earth is groaning and angry.
As a species, I fear we may be sealing our doom with our selfish, short-sighted practices. And what seems like a simple act is, in fact, a piece of a much larger, critical issue. The value of our legacy.
If you leave your dog’s poop behind for someone else to step in or clean up, it says tons about the rest of your life and the way you behave. Chances are, your home or flat is messy and disorganized. Chances are, you’ve been letting others clean up behind you for a long time. Along with sloppiness, comes poor grooming, procrastination, tardiness, and a general lack of attention to and care for details. Thus, chances are, you probably show up late for dates, don’t mend or fix things until they totally break, don’t change the oil in your car until you’re forced to take it in for service, etc. I could go on, but you get the point.
If any of this resonates with you, then perhaps you need to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself some simple questions: “Is this my legacy? Is this the value of my life? If I had a child, would I want them to see me act like this? Is this an example that defines my worth, character or standard of integrity?”
It’s amazing when you put your nastiest, most secret actions into clarified light how quickly it becomes difficult to justify them.
So once again, it’s all up to you. Isn’t it time you sat down with yourself and did a personal inventory, taking stock of how you’re acting out in this world and the impact those choices are having on those around you? And I don’t mean just your spouse or lover or best friend or folks. But the neighbor you never think twice about. Or the people in the restaurant or movie theatre whose evening you’ve just ruined with your rude, loud, crude or thoughtless behavior.
The encouraging thing about The Inner Bottom Line is that every day, every morning you wake up, you get another chance to do things better. Isn’t today a good time to start taking that small step?
Come on. I know you’ve got some better angels in there straining to get out. You can do it.
But one caution: It’s not easy. It takes thought. And care in choosing values you can honestly honor. It takes effort to walk respectfully in this world. To tune in and think about your choices. We make thousands of choices every day. What to wear, what to have for breakfast, what time to leave the house, which road to take, and on and on. Some of those choices include “should I take this call in the middle of this restaurant, should I stop at the stop sign and take my turn? Little things. But they all add up to the value of a life.
So, to the person who leaves poop behind for others to step in, what’s your life currently worth?
You can submit your questions or book private phone sessions with Olive at theinnerbottomline.com, explore her new blog at whatskeepingyouawakeatnight.com, or call into her blogtalkradio.com show, “The Inner Bottom Line,” with your questions. All letters and calls can be anonymous and confidential.
Kindle and audio versions along with the hard cover of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life, are now available on amazon.com.