For the past few years it has been common to hear athletes motivate their teammates by exhorting them to “represent.” It is a call to be the best, giving their best effort as representatives of their team, their school and their philosophy of excellence.
It was a reminder each of them was representing the rest. What they did, and how they played, would affect how those watching would think of the team as a whole.
Like you, my soul has been greatly saddened, even hurt, by the violence and hatred currently bubbling up all around our country.
Sadly, while we attempt to be vigilant and united against the looming threat of terrorism by those who hate our country, we are being torn apart by the very real hatred that is increasingly defining our country.
So I have a solution. Each of us – you, me, your neighbors, my neighbors, my race, your race, my political group, your political group, my world view, your world view – we all need to be the very best representative of whatever group or category we fall into.
And if you eschew categories or groups, just be the best representative of those who eschew categories and groups!
If you are a white male, be the best white male you can be. If you are black, Hispanic, Asian, or other, strive to live in such a way that you make those around you think highly of you and those you represent.
If you are a liberal, moderate, conservative, or libertarian, be the best person – the best example – of your political viewpoint as possible.
No matter what “tribe” you’re part of, represent it well. Be the best version of yourself you possibly can be.
All of this stands or falls on what “best” really means. What does being the “best” representative look like?
I submit we’re talking about basic ethical values all great societies hold in common.
Regardless of your race, age, political viewpoint or world view, there are some non-negotiables when it comes to being a “best” person. Here are a few of the most necessary ones.
Honesty: An honest person has a sound relationship with truth. She recognizes the essential place truth plays in society, seeks it out without prejudice, and is committed to finding, holding and speaking the truth.
Integrity: Integrity is what you are and do when no one is looking. It is a commitment to moral rightness regardless of the circumstances.
A person with integrity is the kind of man or woman you want to follow as a leader, hire as an employee, and hope your kid marries. We all need to be one.
Trustworthiness: This is a person you can assign something to and know it will get done. The trustworthy person keeps his word even when it hurts, keeps her promises even when it is hard, and keeps at the job until it is done and done well.
Compassion: A compassionate person is involved with those around him or her. Relationship is not optional, and neither is helping others as a matter of course.
A “best” person puts others before self, is generous with resources, and works hard not to let disappointment and adversity harden his heart against those living around him.
Courage: People who prize honesty, live with integrity, strive to be trustworthy and extend compassion to others often find themselves swimming upstream against the current of what is comfortable and convenient.
It takes courage to stand for what is right, with those who may need help to stand at all. It takes courage to pursue truth, following the facts wherever they may lead.
And it takes courage to stand for what is right when wrong looks so much more expedient.
Humility: Lastly, and perhaps most importantly when it comes to being the best representative of your group, is humility. Humble people take their tasks seriously, but never themselves.
They don’t need the credit, the recognition or the reward as long as the right things get done and truth and justice are championed.
There are certainly more “best practices” when it comes to being the best representative you can be. I leave it to you to fill out the full palate.
But the real point is simply that we can become the nation we’ve always wanted to live in if we will just become the very best version of ourselves, working hard to represent, and even harder to do it well.
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Saturdays in The Signal.