Living With One’s Self
A farmer whose watch needed repairs took it to a jewelry shop, and asking for the proprietor, said, “I want you to fix this watch. Something has gone wrong within in the last few days, and it will not go.”
The jeweler opened the case, looked at the works, and said, “What do you think is wrong?”
“Guess the mainspring is broken: I let it fall on the floor about a week ago, and it seems to be broken up.”
“Very good,” said the watchmaker, “I’ll fix it up for you.”
“How much will a mainspring cost?” the farmer inquired.
“A dollar and a half.”
In three hours the farmer returned, “Have you got that watch ready?” he inquired.
“Yes,” said the jeweler, winding it up and setting it by the regulator in the corner.
The customer counted out a dollar and a half and pushed the amount across the counter. “It will be only fifty cents,” said the jeweler. “The mainspring was not broken, as you supposed. One of the pinions was bruised a little where it sat in the jewel.”
“Well, now, I reckon that’s pretty honest,” said the customer, pocketing the dollar.
“I would have paid the dollar and a half and never have known the difference.”
“But I would,” the watchmaker said, and I have to live with myself.”
There is a bit of philosophy in this last remark that we would do well to remember. If in a deal one man does another wrong, the greater injury is not done to the man who is deceived. It means only the loss of an extra dollar to him, but the other fellow has to carry that secret round with him, live with it, try to make himself believe that it was not wrong, and ends up despising himself and losing his self-respect and manhood. It’s worth a good deal to have a decent man to live with.
I have to live with myself,
and so I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.
I want to go out with head erect,
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
And here in the struggle for fame and self,
I want to be able to respect myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know
That I’m bluff and bluster and empty show.
I can never hide myself from me.
I see what others can never see.
I know what others can never know.
I never can fool myself, and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience-free!
– Author Unknown