If we are not careful, the process of desensitization can have a large negative effect on our course in life. This is the process of slowly and gradually eroding your principles and values. Many enticing things come along to try to get you to put your wants first above your principles and your honor.
It’s presumably easy enough to say that “I won’t do that bad thing over there!”. But if we make one “tiny” exception at a time, over a period of time our collection of “tiny exceptions” add up to a very large deviance from Integrity. Just taking one “tiny” at a time often takes us down the wrong road so that we are going far beyond that “bad thing” which we said we’d never do. Then we justify and make excuses to try to cover up our behavior.
Each time we take a tiny step away from our values we justify it to ourselves in saying, i.e., A girl might think that "the neckline’s only 1 inch lower than my last blouse", or "the hem is only 1 inch higher than my last skirt." Slowly, bit by bit, the necklines get lower and the hems get higher. Slowly the girl's sense of modesty is eroding away without her paying any head. OR to give another example, in the case of music, we might say, this song only has one or two questionable words. Then later, we think, this next song only has a few more questionable words. Slowly, we take a seemingly "tiny" step further than we did before. We don't realize that we are getting further and further away from the true standard. Eventually we find ourselves listening to lyrics that should make shocked at what we are doing.
It often looks like we are “going after that which we want”, while all the time we are slowly drifting away from our principles and values. We need to firmly set clear boundaries, to put our line clearly in the sand and say “I will not cross that line.” We need to examine and clarify what those values mean to us?
The truth is that our boundaries keep us safe. They keep us from doing many things, things that we think that we want at the time.
For our ethics to stand the test of time, we have to put our principles and values up as the defining guideline BEFORE our likes or dislikes. How many times do we make a decision because “I like it” OR “I HAVE TO make this exception or I won’t be able to participate.” We don’t realize that every time we make a tiny exception to our values “so that we won’t be inconvenienced”, then we are saying that our values don’t mean anything. Our immediate wants or conveniences are more important than our character.
Want-based Choices Versus Character Based Choices
Many seemingly inviting situations come our way throughout the course of our lives. The manner and method we use in choosing what to do is more important than the actual choice we make. The manner in which we make the choices builds or erodes the quality of our character. Although there may be may methods to make choices, here we will focus on just these two: Our wants versus our character.
Using a want-base choice system, our immediate wants take top priority. We will do anything or give up anything to obtain what we want. If we have to compromise our principles "a little" to get what we want, that's not really a big deal. After all, we got what we wanted. We don't notice that with each "little bit" of our principles that we give up, our character keeps eroding, until......
Using a Character-based choice system we put maintaining our character first. We base each and every choice on our integrity, virtues, honor, and the quality of our character. We realize that everything we do in life, and all the choices that we make, either strengthens or erodes our character. When we put our principles first, we will only do the things that we can do without compromise. We draw the line in the sand and will not cross over it.