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Trustworthiness: Lemon with a TwistApril 3, 2014
I want to share one of my weekly columns for the Cook Island News, called "Virtues in Paradise," along with the back story. The editor's headline was "Trustworthiness No Lemon".
My husband has a weakness for Myer lemons, the big juicy ones. He makes quarts of lemonade from them and to my delight, gets his Vitamin C that way. The other day, waiting for the health workers to measure my body mass index and blood pressure, I met a farmer, the main farmer who grows these lemons. He said he would pop in the next day with some lemons for us. Out of my mouth without thinking came the question, "Are you a trustworthy man? Will you really come?" He sat up taller and said, "Yes I am." Sure enough his truck pulled up the next day. "Thank you for your trustworthiness," I said to him. He said, "Of course. How else would people know I keep my word?"
This may seem like a small thing, but to me it is one of the most important virtues. Trustworthiness is described in the Baha'i teachings as "the foundation of all virtues". Jesus talked of building one's house on rock, not sand. Trustworthy faith to me means that we walk our talk. How do we practice this essential virtue?
- We only make promises we can keep.
- Our words don't exceed our deeds.
- We keep our promises.
- We do what we say we will do.
This kind of reliability is the basis of real success, and garners genuine respect from others because they know they can trust us. Those Myer lemons were really sweet, and even sweeter to me, was meeting a man of trustworthiness.
Okay. That was the last line of the column. Here's the sequel. The next time I called the lemon farmer, he said he would be there the next day and sure enough he was. Then the article came out. When he came the next time, he arrived minutes after I called even though he told me he was working with his goats. I could hear them bleating in the background when he answered his cell phone.
I said "Did you see the column I wrote about you?" "Yes," he said, beaming. "I knew it was me when I read it. But my wife didn't believe me." "Want me to tell her?" I asked. "No, other people did." He was carrying a huge, overflowing bag of lemons, many more than we asked for. Then I said, "You could sell these extra lemons. You're being really generous." When he was acknowledged for yet another virtue, his smile was radiant. He said, "No, no. Keep them. Generosity brings a blessing." So we happily accepted our new crop. I said to Dan later, "He really wants to be good." "Everyone does," Dan replied. Once again, I saw the power of a virtues acknowledgment to confirm the deepest desires of our hearts -- to be good and to be seen.