In a world where we are assaulted by media and popular opinion, it can be difficult to differentiate right from wrong.Â While we know what seems to be right, the actions of administration seem to negate our beliefs.
I was recently reminded of this fact when a law firm I worked for twenty years ago was the subject of a recent FBI investigation for improper billing practices.Â The law firm represents a variety of school districts, superintendents of school and other municipalities.Â In fact, it they basically monopolize this sector in a very affluent area of the country.
I remember questioning billing practices, conflicts of interest and other related issues when I was just a kid hired at my first full-time job.Â Because I was under twenty-one and had minimal life experience, my employers always told me I was “uninformed” or just “didn’t understand”.Â What I knew what that right was right and wrong was wrong.Â Being a person with few shades of gray, I continued to oppose certain procedures.
After being offered more money and political positions, I decided this wasÂ a way to recruit young, innocent and intelligent blood into a what appeared to be a corrupt system.Â I decided to leave my job and pursue another position elsewhere.Â The firm was displeased and let me know in certain indisputable ways.Â I stood my ground and moved on to stay strong to my convictions.
I worked for several other powerful law firms in key positions.Â After years of watching government officials and attorneys shuffle money to pad their own pockets, I decided it would be a cleaner job to wash toilet bowls for awhile – which is exactly what I did.Â After spending a few years getting real and talking to everyday people in jobs such as cleaning, retail and telemarketing, I decided to use my education again and become the writer I always wanted to be. It was a difficult decision and my family and I wondered how we would ever make ends meet. If I returned to law, we wouldn’t need those care packages from the church anymore. I got over it and realized I had given many care packages to the church myself over the years and life is simply a cycle of giving and receiving â€“ you take when you need and give when you can. With love and faith, we struggled on and stayed strong to our convictions as I decided I would never return to law again.
Five years later, we are in a comfortable position again and I did not have to compromise my values or turn my head the other way. There are times I’ve worked seven days a week, twenty hours a day but it’s worth it. The path of least resistance is clearly not always the best path and anything worthwhile involves effort, sacrifice and struggle. Reading in the newspapers about the demise of the first law firm I worked for was reassurance it was all worth it. It also confirmed that I was not â€œuninformedâ€ or â€œdidn’t understandâ€ what was going on â€“ I clearly understood.
This applies to all of us when it comes to current conditions in the world. Politicians, government leaders and media hacks are always trying to tell us what to think and how to feel. When we oppose their position, we are â€œignorantâ€ masses who just â€œdon’t get itâ€. As corporate leaders and municipalities get in on this bandwagon, there seem to be fewer people that actually â€œget itâ€, making it even more difficult for those of use who do. In trying to make you doubt yourself, a corrupt system gains another supporter â€“ or loses a valuable adversary.
We all feel the pressure. Rising gas prices, outrageous housing costs, astronomical utility fees and even the price of everyday food is overwhelming. We tend to remain in certain frame of mind or position because it’s comfortable or it pays the bills. We fear stepping out of the box to make a change. However, change begins with YOU. If you are unhappy in your situation, there is always another way. When you can make those changes within your own world, you can strike out beyond yourself to help others achieve greater changes.
Personally and professionally, I am a happier person now because I do not spend my days feeding into a system I don’t agree with. I do not have to stay awake nights wondering if my employer will go to jail or if I will be questioned about his behavior. I don’t drive to work so I don’t consume more gas or make an environmental impact during these controversial times. I can choose my own destiny rather than have someone else tell me what it will be. Even if that is unpredictable at times, it is still more predictable that employers who ultimately wind up the subject of federal investigations. I also feel a lot better about how I spend my life. After all, how can you feel good about going to a job everyday that is clearly not in accord with your personal beliefs?
Making change is painful, difficult and sometimes involves major sacrifices. But the only constant in life is change so we cannot fear it. Without positive change, we can never hope to progress in a positive direction. This starts in our own lives and ripples out to the world around us. Today, more than ever before, you must remain strong to your convictions. Mamasaid there’d be days like these…