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GENDUSA COLUMN: A horse named ‘Integrity’

By Lynn Gendusa
Former Troup County resident and writer 

My Facebook page was hacked and deleted this month, my computer was hijacked, and three women punched a restaurant hostess in New York over COVID requirements. What?!  Talk about adding insult to injury and gas to fire! I think folks need something better to do … like go to work. 

Integrity seems to be forgotten or not as important as it once was.  And we are battling so many different issues today; we need to scrape up as much integrity and honor as we possibly can find.

Materialism, corruption, and distrust have sickened us alongside COVID. We should run them all out of town. Aren’t we all tired of the bad guys? Where is Sky King, The Lone Ranger, Wonder Woman, or Andy Griffith when we need them?  Where are the heroes who will save us from the hackers, the punchers and the destroyers? How do we fight this madness and mayhem?

The only way I know is to hop on a white horse, ride through town wearing our masks, and declare ‘Good’ is a good thing. We could wave banners that read, “Integrity and respect are more valuable than a Gucci purse.” “The power of God is stronger than the power of any wicked politician in town.”

And after we ride through the streets, we must sit our children down and teach them a thing or two about kindness and emotional wealth.

Giving children everything they want without showing them how to give it away is a valuable lesson lost. My mother showed me how to do just that on my birthday years ago.

I was turning 17, and the latest fashions could be found in fantastic Mansour’s department store in LaGrange, Georgia. My birthday was around the corner, and I had seen a beautiful skirt that was quite expensive in their junior department. I took Mom to show her exactly the gift I desired. She nodded her head to the affirmative with a wry smile. I was confident that the skirt would be mine on my birthday morning.

Sure enough, the box was wrapped in white paper with a beautiful yellow bow which I hurriedly ripped open. There it was; the treasured wool tweed skirt. I flung it out and up into the air. When it landed, I realized it didn’t have a tag inside the waistband that said, “Villager.” That was important to my teen brain because you had arrived if it was made by “Villager.” I’m not sure where we were reaching, but it was presumed to be significant.

“Mom, did you remove the tag?” I asked, concerned.

“No, I didn’t. Nor was I going to pay that much money for that skirt. So, I went to Mansour’s, studied the skirt, bought the almost identical material, and made it for you. Lynn, the beauty of the skirt is the gift, not the tag.”

I never forgot that lesson. It’s not the labels, the wealth, or the power that defines us; it is how we behave, the trouble we go through for others and becoming examples of integrity. We must ingrain our kids with such wisdom if they are to have the wherewithal to fight the punchers, hackers and hijackers of tomorrow.

C. S. Lewis stated, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” 

However, God is always watching. He watched as Mom tediously toiled over a skirt just as a thief stole a dress from a department store. He sees folks punch, corrupt politicians, hackers destroy and children pitch a fit when they don’t get their candy or their way.

We all sin, and we all must answer to God.  No matter how bad the wrongdoing or how small, we answer. Most of the time, I have found that we pay for our transgressions while we are still here on earth. I know I have hurt myself many times for doing sinful things. But, through the years, the only way to retrieve my integrity is to ask for God’s mercy.   God urges us to remember the beauty is in the gift of life and what we decide to do with it. Will we teach humility, show compassion, help others heal, respectfully lead, or do we sow sorrow or discord? Who will we follow… the bully or the Godly? 

To turn it all around, we don’t need Sky King or Andy or Wonder Woman, but instead the power of God and each other. Churches stand firm, people stand tall, parents stand proud and let’s scrap up integrity and put it back into our lives.

I need to go now to find a white horse for sale. Will you ride with me?