Integrity: According To The Blog Of Jimmy

(Warning: This is a blog that will get deeply philosophical on your ass and probably should be the summary of a book and not a blog.  If you are of the non-philosophical variety, you may want to forego this one and do some fun reading with this one!)

I always attempt to be as blatantly honest and forthcoming as possible in my blogs. I believe that people resonate with what is true, realized by the use of specific examples (names, dates, situations, etc.). An “intense” issue has been strong and central on my mind recently and I REALLY want to openly write about it -complete with names, dates, and situations. However, writing about the topic in a totally honest and non-discreet fashion may put some others in a potentially negative light. I realize I have no trouble making myself look bad or like an ass when the truth needs to be realized, yet my personal value system (yes, I have one of those…we all do) dictates that I not put others in such a potential negative light -I have the right to make myself look bad, and, unless you are a traffic cop, very few others.

Therefore I write the following as specifically as possible without the use of any specifics. By omitting names I accuse no one of anything and, not coincidentally, any libel suits from happening. You will just have to trust me this is really happening.

I will break this down as simply as I can.

I serve with a group that currently needs to make a very important decision in the near future. This decision will affect lives and, potentially, a lot of people. In a recent discussion with another member of this group that also plays a part in this important decision-making process, I asked “him/her/it” how “his/her/its” (from now just lovingly referred to as “it”…it could be an alien) decision may go if we had to make the decision today.

I asked “it” this question because “it” is a purveyor/believer of all things “ethical.” It is a religious it with a strong moral code and its opinion was of great interest to me. I not only really like this it a lot and have great respect, I really desired an honest and reflective opinion.

When it responded that it is not going to play a part in this decision process by recusing itself, this was of great surprise as a lot of people could be affected by the decision. Though I paraphrase when I write its reason for recusing, “I cannot be a part of it because it may jeopardize my job,” I was taken aback.

“So,” I thought to myself, “You are not going to take part in an extremely important decision that may affect MANY lives because it MAY have negative implications for you personally?”

Wow. I mean, I get it. I understand it. Yet I would empathize far more with that response from the local narcissist who cared little for the universal whole, but from this “it?”…an “it” with morality and integrity?

This has me thinking about the larger underlying issue at play here. Thus, I blog about the issue of integrity. What is it? Who has it? Is it contextual? This situation really has me thinking.

At the risk of a dangerous oversimplification, it seems to me the world breaks “integrity” down into two general areas -and the two have only slight concentric overlapping.

“Personal Moral Codes” integrity vs. “Public Moral Codes” integrity. In other words, the former are those who would place their personal belief system as their guiding light for decision-making; while believing this personal system would also be best for society at large –usually a personal system driven by a code of conduct, holy book, philosophy- as the basis for public decisions (i.e. personally I am against homosexuality therefore I will vote against gay marriage). The latter would be the group who would put public interest first and foremost -a philosophy called Utilitarianism- before personal conviction (i.e. I am against homosexuality though I do not want to deny basic civil rights to a large group of law abiding, tax paying citizens of this country, thus I am for gay marriage).

I believe both processes are ethical and have their merits.

Perhaps the issue of legalizing prostitution is a good example to distinguish between personal vs. public integrity. One with a set of personal moral codes may believe that prostitution is wrong and should remain illegal because of a set of personal moral codes generated by said religion, personal conviction, or a general set of personal values. However, one who views the collective, public welfare first and foremost may see this as the “world’s oldest profession” and that consenting adults have the right to engage it in a professional and lawfully protected manner, though they personally do not engage in it or believe in it.

Do I judge one any better than the other? Hell no. Though I personally take the “Public Moral Codes” position, I completely respect both views of integrity as they originate by a sense of right and wrong and what is best for this world; perhaps for different motivations and with strong different orientations to how they perceive the world, though both sides practice thinking beyond self.

The lack of integrity issue arises when thinking beyond the self is lost and things go terribly selfish.  So, let’s say, prostitution becomes legal and subsequently it is very lucrative to be in the business of whoring. I would take issue with the person who has a personal moral code problem with prostitution yet, if and when legalized, elects to open a brothel because it may benefit them financially—at the expense of their own personal convictions or even voting record.

That is called hypocrisy…plain and simple.

I also would also have issue with the person who believes prostitution would be good for the larger whole of society (safer working conditions, less sexually transmitted infections, etc…) though elects to vote against it because there is word they may open a brothel next door to their house if legalized. He or she concedes it may be good for the whole…though not in their backyard.

That is also called hypocrisy…plain and simple.

To crystallize another scenario, I personally experienced such a conflict of interest. In the 2012 California election there was Proposition 30, an initiative that proposed to raise taxes to help fund public education. Personally, I am fiscal conservative that possesses the conviction that the government wastes a shitload of money and raising taxes only exacerbates problems. However, I am also a California Community College professor who would personally benefit greatly from the passage of this proposition –not only might I see a raise I would also be granted some nice job security for a time.

I like to think I am a person of integrity thus I voted against this initiative. Sure it would have benefited me personally though I believe it would have damaged the public whole…thus I needed to be consistent.

It is consistency, even at the possible expense of self-gain and benefit, that is the cornerstone of integrity.  It is thinking beyond self and doing what is best for the whole. I believe both personal and public moral code individuals can both practice integrity as the morality of both is ultimately driven from thinking beyond self. The “beyond self” for the private person may be in the form of God or religion, while the public code individuals are driven by what is best for society at large.


Do I have an integrity problem with one who voted for the measure who believes that raising taxes is generally a good and healthy course of action? HELL NO. Why? Because they are consistent…even if I may personally disagree with them.

The initiative passed (hey, nothing I could do about how others voted) AND my conscience was not violated because I voted with my “Public Moral Code” first and foremost, even at my own potential personal expense. I could sleep at night…and, fortunately, still have a job to go to in the morning as well.

Please know I am not tooting my own horn (well kinda) but realize that is the way I interpret integrity…and I am open to competing points of integrity views.

Therefore that is the problem I have with “it.” As an advocate of public morality, I find it hypocritical and self-centered to potentially harm the public good for the sake of keeping the self safe and secure…i.e. covering your own ass at any price.  Yet, to be fair, I have not yet had the opportunity to have a follow-up discussion with it over this issue as I am sure it will offer me a sound philosophical reason why this action is justified…we shall see.

I also believe the great majority of people stand for what benefits them personally first and foremost; therefore I do not find this position at all unusual. The world is full of the, “I’m-fine-with-it-just-not-in-my-backyard” crowd as well as the “I’m-against-it-unless-it-benefits-me-personally” contingent.

I guess I have always held a different definition of integrity, and most things I suppose, throughout my life.

Well, I warned you I would get all philosophical on your ass. At least I’m consistent.

Spirituality and Porn: Insights On Religious Terminology From A Porn-Again, Materialistic Blogger

Having grown up in rather lavish religious contexts—Roman Catholicism as well as pastoring in evangelical churches for 13 years—I am well aware of the various monikers and terminologies faith-based systems use to define themselves.

With this wealth of experience I have come to the conclusion that labeling true spirituality is like pornography…but more on that later.

It has been my experience that evangelical, born-again types do not like the term “religion” and would prefer to call their experience with God a “relationship.” I should know…I used to say the same thing myself…for decades. I now realize this is far more a manipulative tool of effective brand marketing than it is of real value or truth.wpid-religion-vs-spirituality

Why? If you look at a rather pervasive definition of the term religion, what about it does NOT fit the evangelical faith or just about any religious system for that matter?

“A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe (Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life), especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies (For God so loved the world), usually involving devotional and ritual observances (Christmas, Easter, Communion), and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs (Do not murder, commit adultery, etc…).”

And what part of that “relationship” is not a religion?

I really do not care what a religious system wants to call itself, though I do know the hallmark of a bad relationship is when one partner is always asking for money…and with relational friends like that, who needs enemies?

It seems Mormons, Jews, Muslims, and Catholics really do not mind the term “religion” to describe their faith-based endeavors. I completely respect the  acceptance of the word to define these institutions while not attempting some niche’ marketing in their branding…just call things what they are.

The other phrase I hear frequently by those non-church, non-doctrine adhering, non-religious types is the sentiment that they “are not religious, they are spiritual.”

Well, in the words of the late Chris Farley, “Whoop Dee Freaking Doo!” It is as if these people have transcended that shallow religion stuff and are miring in the pristine, true blue waters of ultimate experience of all things divine. Yet, in reality, they really are tending to their personal gardens of their own religion, at least in the way we define it above…not to mention being accountable to others in a “religion” can be a real bitch.

Another rather laughable phrase is when one contends they do not like, nor appreciate, “organized religion,” to which I respond, “Would you prefer unorganized religion?” Since when is being organized a bad thing? Give me an organized religion over an unorganized one any day of the week…at least there is an accounting of where the money goes and there are probably enough parking spaces.

So it is with this background and understanding that I approached the lecture of “Materialism vs. Spirituality” that I gave last Wednesday afternoon to my cultural diversity course. While discussing Robert Kohl’s “Values Americans Live By,” I pondered in my own head the difference between true materialism and true spirituality when a couple of things dawned on me

(Yes, the porn analogy is coming -no pun intended).

First, though I have always known this cognitively at some level, true materialism (the desire and love of “things”) and true spirituality (the desire of love of all things non-material) are mutually exclusive understandings—one cannot truly exist in the presence of the other. A truly spiritual person may possess material things, yet they cannot be truly materialistic as they hold on loosely to all things temporary. A materialistic and spiritual person both may own, say, a car—however the spiritual person uses it to fulfill their need of transportation while the materialistic person uses it to fulfill their need for recognition. Just as fire and water cannot complete their intended mission while in the presence of one another—water puts the fire out while fire evaporates the water—so it is with materialism and spirituality. A spiritual and material person may both own “stuff,” yet with the material person it is more the “stuff” owning them.

Secondly, it dawned on me that THE most spiritual person I have ever met, in real life or otherwise, resides in my very own family. If one defines spirituality as the utter deference of self for the betterment of others while holding on to no material desires or possessions in the quest to serve the universe, my oldest son, Jordan Urbanovich, is the pope, prime minister and president of spirituality.

Jordan is currently roaming through India, Bangladesh and many other places I am unable to pronounce and food I cannot stand with nothing more than, essentially, a camera and a backpack. Visiting and raising funds for orphanages, sustainability farms, and other philanthropic organizations, Jordan is a contemporary Ghandi-like figure who cares the least bit for any material goods—save for his camera and computer to create videos for these places, and an accordion to provide good cheer for many.

The only money he accepts are for those things that will continue to fuel his mission: Food, drink, transportation, and the like.

When I expressed this spontaneous revelation to my class last Wednesday, Jordan as both Ghandi and Mother Theresa wrapped into one, I realized I may have sounded like the proud dad boorishly droning on and on about his son…though this was not even remotely the case. It was a revelation of truth, not pride. I literally have never met anyone like Jordan. I could NEVER live the life he does, nor do I desire to…I am far too materialistic.

Yes, my Camaro owns me. If true spirituality wants that bad boy muscle car, she will have to drive it away out of my cold, dead, steering-wheel-clutching hands.

I am pleased when people recognize this aspect of Jordan’s life. So when a student of mine recently flagged me down in the school library and handed me $200, I was initially confused. I then found out she had recently started following him through facebook and stated that she would much rather tithe her hard earned money to someone like Jordan, who is single-handedly going out into the world and making a difference, than donate to any other church or organization with whom she is familiar.

I think I speak on behalf of Jordan and those many Indian organizations he is assisting when I say this is greatly appreciated.

So be it a religion, a relationship, spiritual, organized or not, take your choice of the bullshit labels as it is all a divine mockery of words.

And now, finally, I am reminded of the infamous words of Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart in a 1964 ruling when attempting to define hardcore pornography: He declared he could not intelligibly do so, yet “I know it when I see it.”

Perhaps true spirituality is lot like porn in this regard—not terribly easy to define but we all sure know it when we see it.

So, in the words of another great (and slightly altered) mind, The Doors Jim Morrison, “…dance and save us from the divine mockery of words.” At the end of the day, whatever we want to call ourselves pales in comparison to who and what we are.

True spirituality is experienced, not defined. If you have a minute, check out the experience below…and feel.

Jordan in Nepal

A Nation Of Pussies: Court Storming And Other “Dangerous” Activities

“Court Storming” is the latest troubling aspect of contemporary American society. I realize this is not a sports blog and I have no intention of making it one; yet, in the world of NCAA college basketball, the latest controversy is this “ugly and dangerous” fiasco of Court Storming- better known as the practice of the occasional occurrence of college kids running onto the court after an upset victory or big win.

Apparently this is a BFD (Big Fucking Deal…I use the acronym cause I refuse to be crass)…at least if you listen to sports talk radio.

“It is only a matter of time until someone gets hurt,” I recently heard a sports pundit lament, “It is going to eventually happen. And then what?”

And then what? Go grab a band aid or an ice pack and get over it? Holy shit.

Sooooooo,” I asked myself, “This has been going on for 50 plus years and very few have been hurt? What seems to be the problem? It would seem a rather minimum to low risk event.

Don’t get me wrong…I appreciate proactive, as opposed to reactive, thinking. Yet according to my reasoning, thus far we have zero to low risk…at least if precedence plays a role in our thinking. Worst case scenario? Outside of the above mentioned cut or bruise, probably a stubbed toe or fisticuffs every now and then.


We are crafting a society that is so inoculating us from all hurt or potential injury that it is impeding our ability to live a full and content life…and I am sick of it.  We are outlawing any and everything that might pose the slightest risk of injury. It reminds me of the time I was at a Chargers football game and they had to dispose of the cap on my plastic ($14) beer bottle. When I asked for it back, she informed me that it was stadium policy to dispose of these caps because “someone might get hurt.”


Or what about the couple whose children, ages 10 and 6, were picked up by police officers when they were found walking home alone from school…only to drive them home and admonish the neglectful parents for their “free range parenting” –and were later investigated by Child Protective Services.

Huh? I suppose it could have been worse as they could have been running on the school playground; a dangerous practice that was banned at my kids elementary school once upon a time.

Now this is the point in the blog that I am tempted to declare that we are becoming a nation of complete and total pussies; yet I will not make such a declaration because I respect vagina too much. Someone once observed, “Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” Agreed. Vagina rocks.

It just does not sound right to suggest we are a nation of balls because we are so damn sensitive (and perhaps unsightly), though I know we are becoming a nation of paranoid, cowardly, risk free, passive and effeminate people. Yes effeminate….notice I did not use the word “feminine” as there is a big difference: Just as “macho schmuck” is the worst things of all that is masculine, think effeminate is all the worst things of all that is feminine…the softest, passive, non-assertive aspects.

No, old man Urbanovich is not gonna rant about how he never wore a bike helmet or seat belt growing up; or how he used to ride a mini-bike at the age of 12 through the streets of Burbank; or how he liked to jump off the roof of his garage just for shits and gigs as a kid…no, I will not mention any of that. Today our puss, er, ah, effeminate culture is attempting to create a risk-free experience…and at what price?

One of my favorite books, “Over The Edge: Death in Grand Canyon” puts it this way: “But for American society in general….we have domesticated ourselves. We train and hire specialists to do everything for us so we do not have to take the risk of doing it ourselves…We’ve laced our social lives into a network wherein rights and wrongs are defined by hundreds of thousands of laws….we have airbags, parachutes, orthopedic surgeons, seat belts, life vests and helmets to protect us if something does go wrong. We have become a nation of sheep. Baaaa.”

Sheep? Pussies, er, balls…same thing.

And what is going to happen if we squeeze all the risk out of life? We will transform into a mediocre society that is safe and sound…and miserable.  Risk makes us feel alive, on the edge, and empowered.  I am a firm believer that there are no great rewards without great risk; even if the reward is simply knowing you did something you never thought you could.

Sure, getting up and out of bed in the morning is a calculated risk on our behalf, yet I wonder how long until that is finally outlawed? When is enough enough? When will the risk-free madness stop?  Thank FCE (I have since dropped the B) I had parents that let this kid wander the neighborhood and walk home from school in kindergarten.

Of course our paranoid, effeminate society is concurrently highly illogical. Those children walking home from school would have risked a much higher probability of injury/harm if they were driving in a car over, say, potentially getting kidnapped as they walked. We fear children getting shot with a household handgun or getting shot at school while far and away the number one killer of children are swimming pools.

Where’s the no swimming pool lobby?

Our risk-free advocates do not even make any sense. These are probably the same misguided, short-sighted softies who do not vaccinate their children because it is too dangerous. Would not the greater risk be listening to anything Jenny McCarthy says?

The ban on “Court Storming” is merely a microcosm of what is happening on a much larger scale in this country. My advice? Storm the court of LIFE everyone. Live life. I am not suggesting doing anything beyond stupid or deathly dangerous to self or others; I am suggesting to celebrate the hell out of victory. Storm the court, cut the nets, raise the coach and remember this: It’s going to be impossible to storm the court while simultaneously pushing up the daisies…which is an inevitability for all of us.

Carpe’ diem my friends. None of us know how many storming court days we have left to seize.