My 13 irreducible minimums of decency


The story is told of a young French soldier who was intent on starting his own religion. Day after day he would spend hours evangelizing the other soldiers, extolling the virtues of his ideas for a revolutionary brand of religion which would be universally acceptable to everyone. Trouble is, in spite of his efforts, he never made one convert.

Dejected, he went to his captain and complained that while he worked tirelessly, the priest in his unit seemed to spend all his time enjoying cigarettes and sipping wine with the troops; meanwhile, his chapel was overflowing with converts. Desperate, he asked the captain, “Tell me, Sir. What also should I do to win followers?” The captain simply looked at him and said, “Try dying and coming back to life after three days!”

Moral of the story: it is hard to compete with the J. C. himself. I ain’t trying, but I have my own set of principal rules I try to live by. I call them my “irreducible minimums of decency” or I.M.D’s (not to be confused with W.M.D’s!). There will be no altar call at the end nor will I pass the bucket for an offering. Just tell me what you think of these ideas and feel free to add your own. I happen to believe that even those on the far edge of the religious spectrum might find some points of convergences here. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start. So here they are:

1. If there is a vulnerable child involved, be willing to be taken advantage of, if you can be reasonably sure that your help is going to benefit that child in some way;

2. If you are going to accuse someone of stealing or committing an act that breaches the laws of country or civility, you better be 100% sure. 99.9% won’t do;

3. If you are going to praise someone, write it down; if you are going to criticize or reprimand, speak face-to-face;

4. If someone calls you “stupid,” say “thank you for the information,” and walk away;

5. Never loan money to a family member. Either donate it or don’t do it at all;

6. Live today as if this were the last day of your life;

7. When in doubt, always defend those who have no voice against the powerful and learned;

8. Greet janitors at airports and other public places. Smile and thank them for the nice job they are doing;

9. Never underestimate your tendency to act contrary to decency;

10. Your wife is always smarter than you think;

11. If all your other answers fail, go to church;

12. At least once in your lifetime, find a person who is perceived as the least desirable company in your community and make him/her feel like the king/queen of the world;

13. If you were the only person in the world who is FOR you, you could never say that THE WORLD is against you.

Ivanildo C. Trindade

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