I have been to Europe, but know little of the customs there; however, each area within the U.S. seems to have different customs and cultures. Some overlap can cause conflicts that often end in disputes. For example, in one area I was visiting, people chained their houseplants on their porches, because it was generally considered to be your own fault if they were stolen, and the police would never respond to a report of stolen house plants, tires, wallets or purses.

The story of Shedrick Bables is one chilling reminder that laws, as well as customs and cultures may vary according to localities.

Dec. 19, 2005 – Dallas, Texas. Shedrick Bables, a man who killed two teenagers with a barrage of rifle fire because a fancy hubcap had been stolen, will not face trial on murder charges, a grand jury decided.

Recently a couple in England who were charged with stealing out-of-date food from behind a well-known grocery store chain that was destined for the dumpster, were ordered to make restitution while they can’t afford to buy food for themselves, and their children had been sent to live with relatives. Does this seem fair to you? How about the cashier that slips $20 from the till to buy her child a Christmas present. If you say ‘No’, imagine the child is dying from cancer and not expected to live to see another Christmas? Does that change your opinion? Consider a man who robs a store to pay for his wife’s needed medical expenses? Are we really capable of making these decisions?

I accept the fact that there is right and wrong, but I also understand that it is not a binary decision. We rely on laws to sort it out; but the law is by no means flawless, and the decisions never satisfy everyone.

The definition of integrity means the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, and as long as these moral principles vary from one area to another, there will always be conflicts.

We receive our integrity from people who have a role in molding us to adulthood. Is there really a right and wrong, and who decides? Today, the question of religion is creating conflict in our society. ‘In God we trust,’ ‘Merry Christmas,’ certain flags, sexual identification, even the actions of terrorists are condoned by millions.

I know where I stand. Differences in integrity can result in wars in which millions of innocents are killed. But, if our moral principles define our integrity, on what level do we base our beliefs?