[COMMENTARY] If It’s Broke, Don’t Fix It

Some of you may be thinking, “Dr. E…, you’ve got that all wrong. It’s supposed to be ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.” Well let me tell you all, we’ve got trouble… right here in River City…with a capital T that rhymes with P… (sorry, I digress). But seriously, we do have problems that we need to face in our culture, and consistently we don’t face them. We close our eyes, turn our deaf ear, blame others, play the victim and look to be rescued, and often pick sides on issues that directly affect us all that does nothing to solve the problem. Furthermore, even when we choose to address an issue, we often take the shortcut and expect the best.

So what I want to talk about has to do with integrity and commitment, and if we look around we will see a lack of both in the world around us. The best way to understand what integrity truly is, is to look at building structures. When a building is built with integrity, every part of that building is in line with the other parts from the foundation on up to the spire on top the building. Integrity also extends to the ground that the building is built on. Furthermore, integrity does not only apply to how that structure is built from the top down, but is it strong from side to side? The reason for structural integrity is so that the structure can withstand what life throws at it.

We have all recently been tragically educated on what happens when buildings are not built in integrity from what we have seen on television from Haiti. The buildings were fine for what may happen in everyday experiences and even some hurricanes, but what happened when their foundation was shaken? They crumbled like a tower of children’s block with much greater consequences.

Commitment has to do with how we follow through on decisions, goals, plans and/or intentions when we decide to take them on. Similar to building a structure, if one doesn’t see their intention and commitment to a task through to the end of the construction process, that structure will lack integrity. Too many times people may have had the best intention to build a structure that would withstand the tests of time, and somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, they lost their commitment, and we have seen the consequences throughout history.

“So why all this talk about buildings and structures Dr. E…? I don’t build houses.” Well, if you haven’t figured it out, we are like a house, and we have to recognize that we have to look at ourselves from our foundation to our top floor and even the ground on which we were built.

In our culture, our families are challenged, more than half the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, our education system is showing signs of age and wear, our financial system almost crumbled, our athletes are doing anything to win, and our political system is rife with conflict, betrayal and mistrust. We don’t have to look far to see the problems, but what are we doing to fix them and/or rebuild what is broken beyond repair? To repair our culture, we first have to start with our “house.”

In life, it doesn’t serve us to just live and plan for the tomorrow that brings sunshine or showers. It is easy to show people what we want them or ourselves to see. What are we doing to live our lives through the earthquakes in life, when everything we hid underground is heaved up to the surface? Have we put the time, energy and commitment into looking at our own foundation in our personal, parental, marital, spiritual, political life???  Regardless of how we got here, we have to be willing to fix these problems, all the way down to our foundation. That will be through finding the integrity and commitment to live our lives to the fullest. So what can you do to do this?

  1. Ask yourself, “Are my beliefs, attitudes, emotions, intentions and behaviors in line?”
  2. What can you do to get them aligned? Do you need to set goals? Communicate better? Evaluate my commitments?
  3. Evaluate your personal, parental, spiritual, community, and even political integrity. Are they in line or do they need to be rebuilt?
  4. Get active in the change process, but know it will take time. There may be shortcuts, but they often don’t work.
  5. Consider all of the people that are impacted by your integrity and commitment, but also make sure you make changes in your life for you.

I would ask each of you to look around your “house” and see what may be broken and in need of repair. What do you stand to lose if you don’t fix it?

Image credit: David Lee AUS

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