~by Brenda

I’ve had my Real Estate Broker’s license for several years now. Even though I haven’t worked much since having children, I keep my license active as part of my family’s provident living plan. I want to be able at any time to provide for my family should the need arise. I take continuing education classes online and in person to keep my knowledge of the field fresh and on occasion I represent friends and family members in real estate transactions.

Even with the limited amount of work I do, I’m amazed at how many times I am faced with situations where ethical questions arise, where sometimes I have even been asked to do things that I have felt were dishonest.

When such situations arise, I always reflect on a story I once heard about Karl G. Maeser, one of the founders of Brigham Young University. He is quoted as saying,

I have been asked what I mean by “word of honor.” I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls — walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into ground — there is a possibility that in some way or another I may be able to escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never. I’d die first.

The image of Karl inside that circle has accompanied me all these years as the standard of honesty and integrity. Sometimes I think of myself in that circle too.

We as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strive to be honest. This is hard and takes a lot of self-awareness. Sometimes it takes courage; honesty may not always be the easiest way in the moment.  The older I get, though, the more I see the freedom that lies within the circle of honesty and integrity.

In a letter written on March 1, 1842 to John Wentworth, then editor of the newspaper The Chicago Democrat, Joseph Smith outlined for the world the basic tenets of our faith. These are now referred to as the Thirteen Articles of Faith. The 13th article of our faith is as follows:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul – We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

We believe in being honest. We believe in being true. For me, it may take a lifetime to perfect this particular virtue, but I do know that when I have chosen the most honest route and have done my best to act with integrity, I feel what can only be described as freedom — freedom from guilt, freedom from worry, freedom from the burdens of telling more lies or doing more wrong to cover the original violation of conscience.

I don’t imagine I’ll have to die to defend my word of honor, but I do hope to live in an honorable way.


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