“It wasn’t that big a deal, Gramp,” Jakey said. He sat at the kitchen table working on a Lego project, and his gramp had just expressed disgust at the TV news about a pretty lady singer who’d lip-synced the National Anthem at the Presidential Inauguration.
“Why would you think that?” White asked his grandson.
“’Cause all she did was pretend to sing. It didn’t hurt anybody.”
“Maybe you’re right,” White said, rubbing his chin. “I suppose her fakery, considering the grand scheme of things, ain’t going to add to the final outcome. On the other hand, it might could take away a little. You see, done enough times, by enough people, for a long enough period, it could bring down the whole country.”
“Well.” White scratched his head trying to think how he could get across to Jakey what he meant. He spotted the pile of Legos on the kitchen table the boy was working on. The picture on the box showed that, once all 538 pieces of the interlocking blocks were put together in the right order, they’d form a rather large and intricate space vehicle; one from a galaxy far, far away.
“You take building that…that…,” White jabbed a finger toward the heap of plastic building materials.
“Millennium Falcon,” Jakey said.
“That Millennium Falcon. It’s got a thousand pieces.”
“Five-hundred thirty-eight,” Jakey corrected.
“Okay, five hundred thirty-eight,” White said. “Some of them pieces are really big. But a lot of ‘em, it looks like most of them, are small; some you might could even call eensy. Now, according to the plans you have there, you need every one of them pieces to build that whole thing, right?”
“Uh-huh,” Jakey answered. His expression said he feared his gramp was about to launch into another one of his “lessons.”
“Let’s say someone at the factory where they put all them pieces in the box got lazy and decided to leave out one eensy piece. Most wouldn’t notice, and the kid who got that box of Legos would probably still be able to put that spaceship together without it. As the builder, you’d eventually know the piece was missing, but you could get by without it. However, the structure of that ship would have what’s called compromised integrity. It’d be an eensy one, though. It wouldn’t be no big deal.”
“Integrity means something has wholeness, it’s sound and undamaged. It can also mean sticking to high moral values, like honesty. If something’s compromised that could mean there’s a hole in its wholeness, it’s exposed to failure…or disgrace.
“Okay,” Jakey said. His tone seemed to add, “So, what’s your point?”
White picked up on that. “So let’s say this woman in the factory told all her co-workers how easy it was for her to leave out that one little piece, and they all thought it was a good idea. It’d mean they could get by with doing less work, and no harm would be done…well, not much, anyway. Let’s say they all decided to leave out a piece, too. So, eventually, anyone trying to put that spaceship together wouldn’t succeed. Its integrity would be compromised so much, there wouldn’t be a great deal left.
Jakey held up a pea-sized Lego, and looked at it. “So you’re saying that singer lady was dishonest?”
“No, I ain’t saying that, exactly. I’m saying she lost a bit of her integrity. Same goes for all those who went along with her on that deal.”
Jakey thought about it some more. “Yeah, but still, all she did was move her lips without saying anything,” he concluded.
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