Virtue of the Week: Self-Respect

Pencil ManTHE PENCIL MAN

There is a story about a wealthy banker who always tossed a coin in the cup of a legless beggar who sat on the street outside his bank. But, unlike most people, the banker would always insist on getting one of the pencils the man had beside him. “You are a merchant,” the banker would say, “and I always expect to receive good value from merchants I do business with.” One day the legless man was not on the sidewalk. Time passed and the banker forgot about him, until he walked into a public building and there in the concessions stand sat the former beggar. He was obviously the owner of his own small business now. “I have always hoped you might come by someday,” the man said. “You are largely responsible for me being here. You kept telling me that I was a ’merchant’. I started thinking of myself that way, instead of a beggar receiving gifts. I started selling pencils — lots of them. Now I am a businessman!

No man who is occupied in doing a very difficult thing, and doing it very well, ever loses his self-respect.George Bernard Shaw

IDENTITY

By Julio Noboa, Jr.

Let them be as flowers, always watered, fed, guarded, admired, but harnessed to a pot of dirt.

I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed, clinging on cliffs, like an eagle wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.

To have broken through the surface of stone, to live, to feel exposed to the madnessof the vast, eternal sky.

To be swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea, carrying my soul, my seed, beyond the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.

I’d rather be unseen, and if then shunned by everyone, than to be a pleasant-smelling flower, growing in clusters in the fertile valley, where they’re praised, handled, and plucked by greedy, human hands.

I’d rather smell of musty, green stench than of sweet, fragrant lilac.

If I could stand alone, strong and free,

I’d rather be a tall, ugly weed.

I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin.Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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