Expediency, Integrity

I have been listening to Stephen Ambrose’s Nothing Like It In The World, a history of the building of the US Transcontinental Railroad.  We are deep into the race now, the Central Pacific building furiously from Nevada and the Union Pacific building furiously from Wyoming, both trying to claim as much track in Utah as possible.

Ambrose relates the story of Strowbridge having to fire a man off the CP because he misloaded one train, even after years of good work.  It did scare people, did motivate them, and the man was rehired after a month, but Strow felt bad about what he had to do in the name of expediency in the heat of the battle.

It’s easy to rationalize, justify or even not question the call to expediency in battle.  I suspect that is why this president likes being a war president so much he started his own elective war. The problem is that today, the forces of business like to promulgate the notion that we are always at war, that there is always a fight to be made, that expediency — the end justifying the means — can always be demanded.

I know that this is the experience of many transpeople.  We feel that from an early age the world is at war with us, trying to destroy our own nature.  It’s an asymmetric war, parents and school and peers all ganging up on us, so we learn to be secretive with our plans and clever with our tactics, keeping our heart hidden and protected at all costs.  We have limited resources, so they have to be used powerfully, seducing some others with what they want to hear, and sacking the ones that will not be seduced.

What do we lose when we commit to the expedience of stories and ploys that work in the moment, that go though the weak spots, manipulating others?

It’s my sense that the cost of a commitment to the expedient is a loss of our own integrity.  We can no longer stand up for what is right, moral, balanced and proper if we only care about what is effective, quick, cheap and expediant. 

Where, in this fast, furious and thin world do we have the chance to be supported in our integrity, our standing for truth & the golden rule, our own attempts at integration?  I know that my mother has told me in the past that my problem was that I wasn’t compartmentalized enough, that I didn’t have enough sincere faces.   As someone who has been committed to integrity — heck, I was product manager for an integrated software package — I knew that wasn’t a choice I could make.

The problem, though, is that while I won’t tell a yarn, slip on a face, or lie to placate someone, I also know that the truth may be a little too complicated, or may not be what they want to hear.  That means that my choice for expediency is silence.  I just keep my head down and shut up.

It’s not enough, of course.   Others around me often tell me that I have to fight harder, just do what is required, be who is required, say what I know others want to hear.   I just shut up more, just die a bit more.

This struggle between integrity and expediency is a defining one in my life, a defining one in a world that wants to break queers, and a defining one in a modern world where relationships are fleeting and integrity is not always highly valued.

I need to be able to speak up, from an integrated and integral perspective, with truth and integrity, and not just shut up and stay hidden for the comfort of others.

But damn, that doesn’t feel expedient — or supported — at all.

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