Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I shall keep harping on this subject until I am heard or dead or everyone understands.

Mona Lisa, Censored

Now, my chance to sound off on the  issue closest  to my heart.   I know I have causes and issues up to my ears and leaking out my kazoo, but if I had just one, it would be freedom of speech/the press/expression.  

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

 "Freedom of speech is one thing, but usage of your freedom should not be to offend others or advocate hate speech or provoke people to violence."  

I DISAGREE!!! STRONGLY. One purpose of freedom of speech is to be offensive if one believes offense is called for. I have often written and published statements that some people find highly offensive and I shall continue to do so when I deem it necessary. Offensive speech is exactly what freedom of speech is meant to protect. And what one person finds completely innocuous, another may find inflammatory.

As for HATE SPEECH, does anyone really believe that censoring it stops it? It merely drives it underground.  Better to let the nasties express themselves openly where they can be seen and we know who they are. "Provoke to violence" is a bit more difficult, but what provokes one to violence will not provoke another. Some people are violent and will respond violently. Are we going to give them control of what we say and print? 

Purposely blaspheming anyone's religion is crude and infantile and it's something no civilised person would purposely do, especially not publicly as on the Internet, but censorship is just not the solution.   Again, it only drives the fools underground and renders them invisible to spread their venom.  Better the devil you can see than the devil hiding amongst us, invisible.

Free speech is dangerous, yes.  But  the alternative is much worse.  Censorship?   I'll let Patrick Henry speak for me:

Patrick Henry
 Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

I shall now quote Voltaire's (or somebody's) famous statement and then stop: 

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it."


Nothing left to be said.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Willard Mitt Romney

Being a parody of the original movie poster for the movie "Willard" (1971).  ©The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Cinerama Releasing Corporation (USA, theatrical, 1971)

The quote is from Wikipedia.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

With Our Brothers, We Will Share

I have had a week now to think about the killings in Wisconsin and I still have nothing profound or moving to say, only the image of  Bhenji Paramjit Kaur matha teking to Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji and rising to find herself at the feet of Satguru.

We have six new shaheeds.  When we mourn, we do not mourn for them.  They died well and they are fine.  We mourn instead for ourselves who have lost their sweet presence on our planet and in our lives.

The futility of these needless killings brings to mind a song from an old 1970s movie, Billy Jack.  We Sikhs are, after all, willing to freely give what we have.

"With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain, 
All the treasures buried there. 

Those of my generation will probably remember it.  I hope the rest of you listen and understand its message 

For those unfamiliar with the movie, I should explain that the man being arrested in the video is the hero who has been unjustly accused and the people standing and raising their fists in salute are his supporters, many of them Native American children from the school he was trying to save.  .

Nanak naam chardi kala
Tere bhane sarbat da bhala

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012






As Received,
                                                                                                caution:  Mail contains some gruesome pictures.
 Please forward this email to others also....  
Muslims Massacre and Inhumane Burma Government and Color blind media!!??
28000 Muslim Children, Woman and Man Killed in Burma.
Where in the hell are you international community?!!
More than 20,000 Muslims are killed this month in Burma (Myanmar) by police, army and Buddhist extremists.Now where is f***** UN????

Where is America????
Where is media????


Check out the video on YouTube and other websites

Burma has a population 75 million with the Muslim population being just 0.7 million. 
The Burmese Muslims have been under this affliction after 1962 when the Army usurped the power in Burma.

Trying to elude capture and an imminent killing; Burmese Muslims thronged to the Bangladeshi border, but all they met was dismay. The Government of Bangladesh refused to offer them asylum.
Over 500 Muslim villages have been incinerated hither-to. Thousands have been exterminated. The persecution of the Burmese Muslims at the hands of the Buddhist mobs is at its full swing. Yet all the human rights organizations have maintained a criminal silence up till now. Has the Muslim world become so callous that they remain undeterred by such genocide?
This is not a new thing or an unprecedented massacre. Muslims have been a subject to such hostility even before. If we go through the annals of history we come to the very tenable conclusion that Muslims were always on the suffering side. Why are the followers of Islam being oppressed from time to time?
The fear stricken faces of the poor Burmese Muslims really cuts one apart. The glimpse of their bruised bodies is a heart rending spectacle. Where is the UN now? Why isn’t the International media highlighting this issue? Why are the competitive authorities of the
Muslim world procrastinating?
The government of all secular countries, specially muslim government, should raise a voice in favor of the poor Burmese Muslims at the international forum. The whole Muslim world should join hands to get the poor Burmese out of their distress and misery. – (International Youth Muslim Brotherhood)

A Rohingya mother and her children were turned back when their boat tried to enter 
Bangladesh waters following the sectarian unrest in Rakhine State in June. Bangladesh has
 closed its borders to fleeing Rohingya, in spite of calls from the international 
community to aid the refugees. Photo: AFP

A few hours ago in Binsh, Syria - Check out the signs tabarakAllah! Truly we are one Ummah, our land is one!

Whole of West and their hypocrite United Nations is Silent on
Massacre of Muslims Burma this week They are silent But

why are you Silent ?

If you betray or forsake a

Muslim who is in need today, be
assured that Allah will forsake you tomorrow

Reprinted from IHRO.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Telephone Bill

A commentary on 21st century life or just my telephone bill put through various filters? Meaningful art or just a waste of time? What is art, anyway? What is its purpose? I must be really tired. I think I'll go to sleep now. BTW, I pixelated all the personal stuff before I did the transformations, although I suppose anyone from military intelligence could decode it, if they really wanted to waste their time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


A Friend shared this on Facebook.  Please feel free to do a copy/paste of this post and send it on to your mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, any woman or girl you care about.  It might save her life.

Unfortunately there is a world of difference between "should be" and "is."  Anyone, including women, should be able to walk safely anywhere.  We all know this is not the case.  When we get our perfect world - or at least a more equitable one - we won't need these suggestions.  Until then, please heed them.  They may save your life.



It seems that a lot of attackers use some tactic to get away with violence. Not many
people know how to take care of themselves when faced with such a
situation. Everyone should read this especially each n every girl in this world.

FYI - Through a rapist's eyes! A group of rapists and date rapists in
prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim
and here are some interesting facts:

1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle.
They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid
or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to
go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common

2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women
who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors
around to cut clothing.

3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through
their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are
off guard and can be easily overpowered.

4] The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is
grocery store parking lots.

5] Number two is office parking lots/garages.

6] Number three is public restrooms.

7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman
and quickly move her to a second location where they don't have to
worry about getting caught.

8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged
because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going
after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming.

9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas,or
other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their

10] Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to
the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince
these guys you're not worth it.


1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or
with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask
them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk:
can't believe it is so cold out here, we're in for a bad winter. Now
that you've seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up,
you lose appeal as a target.

2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of
you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to
said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would
not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY

3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of
it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER
SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

4] If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can
do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from
behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and
armpit or in the upper inner thigh - HARD. One woman in a class this
guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was
trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin
and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching
yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.

5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a
particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy's parts it
is extremely painful. You might think that you'll anger the guy and
make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our
instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of
trouble. Start causing trouble, and he's out of there.

6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers
and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing
down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using
much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked

7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of
your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any
odd behavior, don't dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel
little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really
was trouble.

I know you are smart enough to know these pointers but there will be
some, where you will go "hmm I must remember that" After reading,
forward it to someone you care about, never hurts to be careful in
this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your
body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

2. Learned this from a tourist guide to New Orleans : if a robber asks
for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from
you.... chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or
purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back
tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like
crazy. The driver won't see you but everybody else will. This has
saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping,eating,
working, etc., and just sit
(doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS! The
predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for
him to get in on the passenger side,put a gun to your head, and tell
you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS , LEAVE.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or
parking garage:

a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be
hiding at the passenger side , peek into your car, inside the
passenger side floor, and in the back seat. ( DO THIS TOO BEFORE

b. If you! u are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the
passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling
them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their

c. Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and
the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest
your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a
guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE
THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are
horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS
RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times;
And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may
get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a
good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies
of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often
asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when
he abducted his next victim.

I'd like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a
life. A candle is not dimmed by lighting another candle. I was going
to send this to the ladies only, but guys, if you love your mothers,
wives, sisters, daughters, etc., you may want to pass it onto them, as

Send this to any woman you know that may need to be reminded that the
world we live in has a lot of crazies in it and it's better safe than

If u have a heart or compassion share this photo.


‘Helping hands are better than Praying Lips’ – give us your helping hand.


Friends So Please Share....Your one share can Help to spread this information. We share So many Stupid Things on Facebook and ignore these types of things which can save so many life's...

Monday, July 9, 2012




Saturday, July 7, 2012


Pinterest Pics.

Just so you'll understand seemingly random pictures posted here.  I cannot post directly to Pinterest from Facebook or from my own "My Pictures" file, so I have decided to post stuff of mine to pin in this blog.  I hope you don't mind.

Friday, June 22, 2012


News story at   

Or perhaps it should be "in angry, outraged, furious memory."  This is wrong on so many levels.  Rape, of course, is the ultimate act of disrespect, to be raped so violently that death results can barely be imagined.  That is the first level of wrong.  How can beings calling themselves "men" behave in such a manner?  I wonder if they think of their mothers, who, after all, are women, while they do the vile crime.

A second level is the fact that being raped, being the VICTIM  is so shameful that she cannot even be named, not even after she has died.  I guess that would upset her family's izzat and position in their community.  I have always hated the fact that a woman who has been raped is "dishonoured" in the Indian speech.  I will not be sidetracked into the whole izzat thing except to say it is one of the greatest evils of Indian society.

Note:  Now, thanks to the Times of India, we can give her a name.  Babina Bahera.  When I originally wrote this, I found no name for her.  Now, at least, her name is known and her memory can be properly honoured.  

Which brings us to what is probably the single greatest evil of India, certainly the most glaring.  Caste.  My higher caste Hindu friends assure me that caste is totally passé and of no importance.  I have had many Dalit friends over the years and not a single one has ever tried to convince me of this nonsense about caste being irrelevant.  If it is irrelevant, why is it always mentioned?  Have the thugs responsible been arrested?  Are they known?  Why was the family's complaint ignored? How would the gang rape of a young brahmin girl be treated?

And I don't let my Sikh coreligionists off the hook here, either.  You know damned well that caste is still a fact of life among most of us.  Remember Jassi Kaur Sidhu of Canada.  I thought that would make you cringe.  It damned well should.  He was "of a lower staus than she," indeed  For those who aren't Sikh or pretend to forget, there is even a Wikipedia article about her.     .  At this point, I am so angry, that I suppose I should stop writing and cool down a bit, but I won't.

All you big, strong, macho Jatt Singhs out there, how would you react if this were your sister?  Would you sit back and do nothing?   Well, guess what?  She IS your sister and if you are worthy of the name "Singh" you know it.  What are you going to do about it?  

This young lady's case has become something of a cause célèbre.  Good.  But that's not enough.  What about the other young women raped and otherwise sexually disrespected?  What about them?  Maybe you think you can hide them behind the innocuous-sounding "Eve-teasing."   No.  Not any more.  Be prepared to discover that those days are ending;  the women of India, like women all over the world are awakening and these days are soon to come to an end.  Do you think I'm dreaming?  I'm not.  Here is one blog that is an example of the awakening of our hundreds of millions of sisters in India.  Read the posts.  Read the comments.  Check the links.  The women are rising up and demanding equal status as human beings.  Here is the link to "The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker."

I have no right to dictate anything to the Dalit community, so I will only suggest that you remember and emulate the intelligence and courage of Dr. Ambedkar.  There is power in numbers.  And 166,000,000 are a whole lot of people.



My friend Gurmeet Kaur found more information including the young lady's name.  It is Babina Bahera.  May she rest in peace and may those who love her be comforted.   Reading between the lines, it appears that the perpetrators are known or at least highly suspected.

Now will they be brought to justice?  From The Times of India:  Pipili 'rape' points to pitiable state of women.

 Reading between the lines, it appears that the perpetrators are known or at least highly suspected.  Now we shall see.  What will be the final outcome?  I can guess.

She is dead.  Except for those who know and love her, she will soon be forgotten and life will go on unchanged.

It doesn't have to be that way.  If the people have the will, it can be changed. But it won't.  Not now.  Maybe not for a long, long time.  Someday.  Just not now...

If this post has not offended anybody, I am sorry.  That was not my intention.  Some things are inherently offensive;  this is one of them.  I will never forget her.  Every time I see a lovely hummingbird, I will think of her and the others like her.  It could have been me.  Or you.  Or som,reone dear to you.

My love to you sall/.

Remain in chardi kala.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

6. June 2012 (1984)

A thought on 6. June 2012 (1984)

"Never forget!  Never forgive!"  Every year on this day, I hear those words, read the words, say those words.  What do they really mean?  I agree that we must never forget.  It occurs to me that I'm not sure of the meaning of "forgive," though.  If it means "condone," I agree that we cannot forgive.  Ever.  I do not believe a Sikh is ever called on to condone evil.

The Buddhists say that "Forgiveness involves surrendering feelings of animosity and hatred when others step on our toes."  Or murder our babies?  And mothers and old blind men? 

Forgiving is supposed to be good for us.  It probably often does no benefit to the one forgiven, but it takes a load off the forgiver. 

But exactly what is forgiveness, and how can I tell if I have really forgiven?  Is it possible to forgive and then to unforgive?  Or is forgiveness forever?

I'm just asking because I really don't know.  if you do know, please write it here, so I'll know, too.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Two things I really dislike get rants from me today.  The Mother's Day thing, I guess, is obvious.  I miss my little boy (who would now be in his 40s). It's fine for the rest of you to celebrate, but for one day, let me hide out in my cave and ignore the rest of you.  Mean spirited on my part, maybe, but very, very honest.

Enough of Mother's Day...

 Latex gloves.  I hate latex gloves.  I have had various caregivers who help me live with my various disabilities.  They have all been a bit eccentric, from the fanatical proselytizing Christian to the sweet elderly lady who thought that changing sheets every week was too often to my current one who is really quite good.  She does her work reasonably well and is nice and caring and helpful (except for about every fourth week).

Latex Gloves
The first one wore latex gloves when doing housework and laundry and the like.  I have no problem with that.  If she needed to put lotion on my back or legs, no latex gloves.  Likewise when she tied my hair.  Of course, if she had to touch sores or any bodily fluids, the gloves came on.  That is reasonable.  The elderly lady never wore latex gloves.  I guess she just didn't like them or maybe she was allergic.

My current caregiver wears them for everything.  Any time she touches me, she puts on those damned gloves.  When she helps me dress.  When she helps me walking.  Even when she brings me food.  (I still haven't figured that one out.)  She used to wear them when she tied my hair.     I put an end to that.  I am a keshdhari Sikh.  My hair are clean and well maintained and I hold my hair to be sacred.  Refusing to touch them is beyond insulting to me.  In fact, I insisted she take off the gloves or find another client.  She took off the gloves.

Latex gloves are gross.  It feels like a dead thing touching me.  As I said, I understand the purpose sometimes, but really...I asked her if she was afraid I'd give her cooties or something.  She didn't know what cooties are, so she explained it was for my  protection.  I almost lost my temper, but I kept cool.  "My protection?!  Are you dirty or do you have leprosy or something?  You do wash your hands after using the toilet, don't you?  I can't buy that bit about my protection.  You wear them for your protection, not mine."


"It's cooties, isn't it?"  I'm not sure if cooties only exist in the Western Hemisphere, so I'll explain.  No one is quite sure what cooties are, but they are the absolute worst and highly contagious.   The symptoms are varied and mostly innocuous, but always result in severe social problems for the infected unfortunate.  

Once you get them, it is very hard, even impossible to get rid of them.  So how do you get cooties?  Other than by associating with others with cooties, the usual way is by being socially unacceptable.  Cooties breed in young people who are "different," especially in noticeable ways.  The poor kid who can't afford designer clothes.  The intellectual, four-eyed kid who would rather read than gossip.  The bucked tooth girl with the strange accent that none of the boys want to date.  The crater-faced teenager with zits all over his face.  Fat kids.  Cooties breed especially virulently in fat.  Cooties is primarily an affliction of the uncool. 

Certain occupations can also give you cooties.  Garbage collectors, of course, have cooties by definition.  Most politicians have a very bad case, but some, such as Jack Layton (dear Jack, I miss him) seem to be immune.  Less lofty politicians, such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are surprisingly cooties free.  I am not sure why.  Some more prestigious professions can also make you highly susceptible to cooties, such as being a lawyer or a proctologist.  I have also heard that morticians have cooties, but I am unable to verify this.

A few professions will actually make you immune to this dread condition.  Veterinarians and for some unknown reason, train engineers, are known to be 100% cooties free.  Go figure.  So are the 1%, of course, but I'm really not certain about Paris Hilton.

Paris Hilton
They can also run in families.  If you have a sibling with really bad cooties, say a gay brother or a sister with cerebral palsy, people might get cooties even talking to you.  I have heard you can get cooties even being in the same room with someone with a super bad case of cooties, maybe a girl who doesn't shave her legs or wear make-up, but I think that is an exaggeration.  As you can see, these cooties are really a very dangerous thing to have. The cootified individual has few, if any, friends and has a lonely existence.  Even their family members may resent them for bringing cooties into the family. 

The thing is that I don't see how latex gloves can protect anyone from cooties.

Since many carriers of cooties are impossible to spot, I guess the only way to be certain to remain cooties-free is to live in a "safe-room" somewhere with no contact with other human beings.  Certainly you shouldn't become a caregiver dealing with people like me.

My caregiver petting my dog - without wearing latex gloves

End of Rant.  Thank you for listening

Tuesday, April 24, 2012



I'm not sure why I have been feeling so introspective recently, but I have been looking inward a lot.

I have been thinking about five books that have helped shape my life, each one radically different from the others. You may notice that I do not include Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji among these books because, as any Sikh will tell you, it belongs in its own class alone and is not properly a book, anyway. I have tried to leave our all holy scriptures, but found I could not leave out the Tao Te Ch'ing.  Taoists, forgive me.

OK, the five books, in the order that I read them:

The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki

Markings by Dag Hammarsjköld
Not available on line, but in print and easy to obtain

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Tao Te Ch'ing by Lao Tsu

How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World by Harry Browne

Two novels, two spiritual classics and a self-help book.  

Do any of these surprise you? Do you now feel that maybe you don't know me as well as you thought you did?

If that list doesn't seem to be strange, even contradictory , I can only believe you haven't read these books. I would recommend them all to any of my friends. Let me make something clear. I am not a follower of any of these. I read Genji without becoming a member of the Heian Court, Markings without becoming a Christian, Rand without becoming an objectivist. Lao Tsu without becoming a Taoist and Browne without becoming a libertarian. Nonetheless elements of all are an integral part of who I am today.  I identify myself primarily as Sikh, although the group identification is secondary to my identity as an individual.

Now that the list and links are here, I need a rest. Four of the five are available on line. I believe these to be legal and ethical links. If not, please let me know.

These are pictures of the editions I first had.  (I love the Internet.)

Of these books, the one with that clashed most with my accepted way of life was Harry Browne.  As I recall, the last project in the book was to write my own personal moral code.  What kind of hubris does that take for a young woman in her twenties to do what most people believe is best left to Deity?  So, of course, I did it.  I do not have a copy of it here, but I put a lot of thought and work into it.  

I remember writing that true morality must be based on one’s most deeply held values.  I have always been value-oriented, so this is a logical place to start. That is one reason it is necessary for an individual to write her/his own code.  What right does anyone have to dictate to another what their most deeply held values are, anyway?  So why would I accept someone else’s code as my own?  (“What is a value” is a bit complicated and better left for another day.  You can just use your working knowledge of values for now.)

I knew from the start that the value I held most dear was integrity.  So what exactly do I mean by “integrity”?  First, I do not mean “honor.”  Honor is socially defined and varies from group to group.  Honor essentially means following the rules, spoken and unspoken, of the group.  So honor might demand one thing among my friends and something completely different, even contradictory, within my family.  For example, my friends might expect me to lie about what they had been doing (anything else would label me as a snitch, at the very best), while my family might have a rule that we must always tell the truth.  

Integrity is not like that.  My integrity comes from within me and has nothing to do with what group I happen to be with at the moment.  Integrity to me means being true to what I know and believe to be true in any and all circumstances.  This is difficult for several reasons.

First, it assumes that I know what I truly believe.  That is most difficult.  How do I separate myself from all the groups I belong to, throw out their ideas of what is right and wrong and then choose for myself what I believe to be morally correct?  I think most people never do that;  they follow what they are taught and are content with that.  That’s fine for them, I suppose.  Sheep are fine animals, in their own way. 

I am not a sheep.  Neither are my close friends.

These are not my close friends.

Integrity demands that I ask myself questions such as, what am I willing to live for?  What am I willing to die for?  When and what am I willing to compromise?  These questions really need to be asked and answered in advance of a crisis to be helpful.  Very few people, if any, are able to be clear-headed in a crisis and even if they are able, generally action needs to be immediate, so there is no time for thinking.  I cannot even suggest how someone else might answer those questions, but I have answered them for myself and lived my life according to my personal answers.  I am not going to answer them here;  those who know me know my answers, those who don’t, have no reason to know.

I need to add here that it is impossible to know how you will react in a crisis until you are actually there.  However, if you have thought it out in advance, you are much more likely to act in accordance with your integrity than if you did not.  I know that I have.  And there have been times when I haven't.

Once the individual has answered these questions and knows where s/he stands, the fun begins.  Now is the time to actually live according to them.  This is often quite difficult and the rewards are beyond immeasurable.  My personal integrity demands that I either tell the truth or refuse to answer.  Sometimes this is a bit dicey, at best.  I remember someone once asking me about herself, “Do you think I’m a good person?”  The blunt answer was, “No, you do things that I find reprehensible and by my standards, you’re really not a good person, at all.”    I admit I fudged a bit and still managed to tell the truth: “It doesn’t matter what I think.  What is important is what you think about yourself.”  Actually, that is closer to the truth than my opinion would have been.  Fortunately, she dropped the subject, but had she gone on, I might have been compelled to give my blunt answer.  What I could not do was say, “Yes, I think you’re a good person.”  

Before I canonize myself here, I need to answer one question.  Do I always act with integrity?  The answer, sadly, is, no.  I am neither Howard Roarke nor Lao Tsu;  I sometimes let myself down.  Over the years, though, those times have become fewer and now I can generally expect that I will follow the rules I have laid down for myself.    

So integrity means knowing what I believe and living accordingly.  It also means that I must change my beliefs if I become convinced that they are in error.    Correcting old errors is good. As knowledge and experience increase, old ideas may become shallow and false.  In addition, I do make mistakes in judgment sometimes, after all.  

Clinging to old beliefs that I have outgrown is both dishonest and limiting. 

I do not believe in limiting myself.  

I think this is one thing all five books have in common:  they are all deeply concerned with integrity.

I think that is enough on integrity for now.  Back to my moral code.  I have forgotten most of it, and I would really like to know how much I’ve followed, how much I’ve changed and have a glimpse of the woman I was back before life became serious.  I think my values are pretty much the same, but my understanding of them and how I apply them, I hope, has grown over the last 40 years.  I do clearly remember two statements, both of which I still hold dear.

1.  Do not knowingly say things that are not true
2.  Never surrender your weapons to anyone.

And in big red letters across the top I had written:  

 I have always had a small problem with authority.