Dear Reader,

The choice to write this particular blog entry is a risky one. This could potentially cost me work, jobs, or clients. I am writing a very unpopular posting. However, I need to reply to my critics.

My critics do me a form of service. They bring to my attention the negatives that people see in me and that I am not aware of (yes, I left a dangling preposition on purpose). Sometimes, it provides me with the opportunity to alter a particular course of action that may have the potential to do damage to others. I have no wish to silence my critics. Their observations challenge me and push me to further self-examination.

It has been brought to my attention that some people see me as self-aggrandizing. “Patting myself on the back for doing what is only duty.” I wish to address this on my public forum because it pertains to my public status.

I do not believe that the popular definition of self-esteem that is currently the highest value in America is the right priority for one’s life. People are now being taught that anything that makes them feel badly about themselves is a serious problem they need to address. America now has the highest self-esteem among its population in the world. But at what cost?

People feel very good about doing nothing. This has led to the majority of Americans who can’t be relied on to make it to work on time. To do their job without being constantly babysat — while all the time complaining that the boss is an overbearing jerk who won’t stop watching them. A generation who feel entitled to collect federal aid and play games to keep collecting — all the while complaining that the government is unreasonable in making them keep a job search log and routinely investigating to prevent fraud (aka stealing). We have a culture that values taking as much as possible and giving as little as possible in return — making it nearly impossible to build up a good business relationship with anyone. A generation that can’t be relied on to pay bills or live within their means. A generation of people who lie to make a sale with no regard for the financial situation of the other person. People are now unwilling to live with personal discomfort when they have disappointed someone, not lived up to an obligation, taken advantage of another, done something wrong, or broken a law. It has become impossible to say anything to another person. You are viewed as intrusive and outrageously trying to dictate their life and smash their self-esteem.

This has led to a country that is seriously losing out in the global market. We have no jobs and no respect among other countries. We are not highly valued because we have become untrustworthy. No one will listen to another country tell us these things because they are smashing our valuable self-esteem.

I see my blog as a forum to speak out — to call to a culture in a state of disaster and try to make a difference.

I have worked long and hard to get where I am. My career and my success are the result of hard work and ethics lived out in a culture that does not value such traits. I have been laughed at and called a “sucker”. I was disappointed to find that name-calling was not left behind in the second grade. I am considered a “bully” as a woman for not nurturing every little hurt and wound in another adult. Such “bullying” by the good people who raised me made me the quality individual I am today with the strength of character that I have.

I was contacted by a potential student who wanted to pay me to take a course online for them. This past year I lost my income twice with no advance warning and with no savings in the bank. I refused the work. I will not be paid to use my skills to help someone cheat. I am collecting unemployment and able to get food stamps and subsidized housing. If my character is so easily thrown away when I have help available then my character is worthless. Character is priceless.

So, I do not believe I am patting myself on the back for doing just what is a duty – the basics. Most Americans are not doing just a duty — the basics. I am taking a stand to communicate that not only is it possible to do the right thing, but it is possible to do the right thing and succeed.

I am in the minority of people doing what they should be doing. I don’t believe my self-esteem is more important than living up to my financial obligation to an employer who is paying me good money to do a job for him or her. I do not believe that making money is more valuable than my humanity or other people. I will not sacrifice my work ethic and compassion to take advantage of someone to make a quick buck that will be spent in the next hour on a movie that I will not remember in a year.

I write these things in my blog because I believe that we need public voices to make an impact. First, to represent that there is another way to live that is more effective. I do not hate my culture. I am heartbroken that people have let themselves be led to believe that this way of life is the way to succeed. Secondly, I believe that we need public voices to support others who also still live with integrity. I have no illusions that I am better than others or the only one with ethics.

As long as our highest value is feeling good about ourselves at everyone else’s expense, we will never succeed. I would encourage Americans to listen to their critics. Instead of silencing those around you who see problems with you, take it in and think about it. I would challenge the next generation to rebel by living with a lack of self-esteem. The war on ethics needs to come to an end.

Critics, please feel free to continue emailing me or to make your comments here.