A few years ago an acquaintance of mine called me and talked about some work he wanted done with a religious organization, “ Is it all above board?” I asked suspiciously. “Maybe a few things are a little irregular here and there,” he admitted, “but then a little greasing of hands is inevitable!”
“But these are religious people,” I reminded him sharply, “I don’t think they will stoop to accepting a bribe!” “Bob,” said my acquaintance patiently, “Everyone has a price, if it’s not five rupees it’s five hundred, or five thousand!” I pondered over it, this morning. I remembered an instance in New York a few years ago. I was standing in line with a close friend of mine to get onto the ferry going to Ellis Island. We were at the beginning of the line, when a man came to us and asked whether he could stand ahead of us. “No,” said my friend, “You should go to the beginning of the queue!”
“I don’t have the time,” said the stranger, “Here’s twenty dollars, so you’ll allow me!” My friend refused, “Twenty or hundred!” he said, “You can’t break the queue!” The man went away, and I turned to my friend, “Would you have given him a place if he’d offered you five hundred?”
“No Bob,” said my friend, “It’s not about the money, it’s about integrity, and that’s priceless!” Something I’ve discovered in the last year or so, is that all such situations are not always about money.
I have found leaders strong, honest and straight, who have seen that only the qualified and fit get into their company, suddenly bending all the rules, to get a son or daughter to succeed them, even when these children have no leadership qualities. I have found rules and laws broken by so called men of God, so that they can continue in power as heads of organizations. And that’s when I hear those words, ‘Everyone has a price!’ But integrity is priceless.
You may be hated for not compromising, but slowly and surely a grudging respect will form. That man who tried to break the queue must have been furious for not getting his way for twenty dollars, but the message that everybody can’t be bought must have gone home to him, and I am sure at some time he would have wondered whether he himself could make such an example of himself. Do you have a price? Or do you hold integrity, priceless?