Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 20, 2001
Integrity can trump 'logic'
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
Matthew is a good guy. By that I mean he's a person of honour and integrity. Now that may seem a bit biased since he's only 17 and he is my nephew. But there are in him signs of quality that make me proud to know him.
An example: Matthew attends a Catholic high school. Recently, he slammed his desk loudly in class. It annoyed the teacher who whirled around from his blackboard and gave a detention to the student in front of Matthew. The other student protested his innocence, but the punishment stood.
On reflection, Matt realized that he couldn't let the other fellow take the rap for him. So Matthew showed up to take the detention himself.
Not a monumental action, granted, but a sign of a working conscience and a character that considers consequences and responsibilities. I would like to think that it's not unusual for a young person - or any person - to make a morally correct choice, but we live in an age and society that appears almost startled when someone does the right thing.
Which brings me to Survivor II. This amazingly popular CBS television series has been fodder for millions of discussion about what Colby did. Now, if you don't know who Colby Donaldson is, let me give you some background.
One of the show's 16 contestants, the custom auto designer from Dallas was highly skilled at surviving. Friends and foes agreed that he was the one to beat.
Colby headed into the final eliminations against Tina Wesson, a mother of two from Knoxville Tenn. Their only other competitor was Keith Famie, a chef from West Bloomfield, Mich., who did not seem especially talented at the game.
In addition, Keith seemed to annoy just about everyone. As the "strategists" saw it, Keith had survived the game almost as a fluke. The assumption was that he'd be cut by the final elimination.
So we get to the finals and Colby once again scores a victory. His reward: he gets to eliminate either Keith or Tina, in other words, to select his final competitor. Now, logic would suggest that he eliminate his strongest opponent. That would leave him with a huge advantage over the last person standing between him and the million-dollar prize.
Smart money says Colby should eliminate the popular and talented Tina. He doesn't. He chooses Keith, setting himself up for a final match against Tina who, in fact, beats him by one vote.
Now lots of analysts will castigate Colby as a fool who blew a million dollars. I see it another way. I think he made an honourable choice.
That's not to say that he didn't want to win. But he and Tina had become friends. And friends don't betray friends.
In an earlier moment in the show, Tina had revealed that except for her present job, she'd never worked for anything but a minimum wage. The thought that she was inching toward the big prize was exciting. At that moment, I began to hope she'd get her wish. Maybe Colby did too.
The "why" of his decision to take on the tougher competition will probably remain in the mind and heart of this gifted competitor. For me, the reason lies in his character.
Throughout his defeat, Colby acted with honour, dignity and genuine grace. The smile and embrace he offered Tina at her moment of victory rang true. In his moment of defeat, Colby seemed to be a true gentleman. That's not behaviour we've come to expect either from the media or daily life, but it's great stuff nonetheless.
So Matthew and Colby, congratulations. We're not here to succeed all the time. But we are here to be persons of honour and character who respect others.
The world may think you crazy for these choices. I rejoice in your goodness. And so do the people watching - on the TV set or from across the room.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, A Matter of Conscience, write to The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY 10017.)
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