My wife and I were married in June 1980, which was a month after I finished my first year in law school. One of the weekly television shows that we watched together during the first year of our marriage was the prime-time soap opera, Dallas. We’ve come a long way since then. Today, there’s no way we would waste our time on that type of show.
Anyway, Dallas was about a wealthy Texas family, the Ewings, who lived on the Southfork Ranch in Texas. The family owned Ewing Oil, an independent oil company that was run by J.R. Ewing, an unscrupulous businessman who did whatever it took — including lying, cheating, and stealing — to get his way.
One of the most famous quotes from Ewing was, “Once you give up your integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.”
Ewing was the quintessential narcissist. In addition to being extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance, he had an excessive admiration and infatuation with himself. His role in the show was so critical that he was the only character who appeared in every one of the 357 episodes that aired from 1978 to 1991.
If you ever want to see a man who completely lacks virtue, watch some of the old episodes of Dallas.
Last week, I wrote that our society was once known as a virtue-based society, but unfortunately, it is well on its way to being transformed into a narcissistic-based society. The reason for this is because there are many individuals and leaders in our country who no longer live their lives according to traditional virtue-based values.
Instead of living their lives according to the virtues, they determine what is moral and immoral according to their own misguided beliefs. If asked, they deny the existence of absolute truths.
Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, every individual who has reached the age of reason (around seven years old) is guided and driven by values that are based on their beliefs. Regardless of what those beliefs are, they eventually turn into the “absolute truths” of the individual.
Whenever I think about absolute truths, I think of the word “axiomatic,” which is defined as “self-evident or unquestionable.”
It is axiomatic that the behavior of every human is governed by absolute truths.
J.R. Ewing’s behavior was governed by his own “absolute truth” that a man could do anything he wanted — including lying, cheating, and stealing — to get his way.
A man who has the opposite beliefs — that lying, cheating, and stealing are never acceptable — has as his “absolute truth” that everyone is to always be treated with honesty and respect. While a truly honest man may still have the desire and ambition to succeed in life, he will never lie, steal, or cheat to get his way.
Years ago, I met a man who truly believed that no man can spend his entire life being faithful to only one woman. To him, it was an absolute truth that it was impossible for a married man to limit his sexual activity and desires to his wife. It’s easy to guess what happened to him and his marriage.
Although he cheated on his wife for more than 30 years, it wasn’t until after their children were adults that his wife found out about his infidelity. They ended up going through an expensive, ugly divorce. In addition to losing the love and respect of his wife, he also lost the respect of his children and several of his grandchildren. The final years of his life were miserable.
Contrast that man’s beliefs and behavior with the beliefs and behavior of the two men who had the most influence on me while I was growing up — my dad, Carl Williams, and my grandfather, Tom Williams. They practiced and lived the virtues of honesty, purity, and chastity, which led them to embrace the absolute truth that a man has the ability and the obligation to always remain faithful to his wife.
At the time of his death, my grandfather had been faithful to my grandmother for more than 51 years of marriage. My parents recently celebrated 68 years of marital love and fidelity. I’m grateful that my dad and grandfather showed their children and grandchildren through their words and examples that the real absolute truths that must be practiced in a marriage are honesty, purity, chastity, and fidelity.
Our beliefs are the foundation of the absolute truths that guide and govern our behavior and the way we live our lives. Wouldn’t it make sense that you would want your children and grandchildren to learn and put into practice virtues such as faith, hope, love, honesty, kindness, humility, courage, purity, chastity, forgiveness, gratitude, self-discipline, diligence, patience, prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice?
Wouldn’t you think it would be important to begin teaching those virtues to your children and grandchildren at the earliest possible age?
The danger of not teaching virtue-based beliefs to our children and grandchildren is that a void will be created within them and whatever beliefs they are exposed to will be adopted by them as their own. As a result, their beliefs will come from whatever they are exposed to in their homes, the schools they attend, the shows they watch, the games they play, the social media platforms where they hang out, and, of course, from their friends and the people they interact with.
It’s never too late to begin learning and then teaching the virtues to our children and grandchildren.