Identity Theft

Have you ever been the victim of identity theft? I don’t know of anyone who has though many times I have read or listened to those who have been affected by it. I understand it is not a pleasant situation to be in. The identity theft that is most commonly discussed is that defined by Wikipedia:

Identity theft is a form of stealing someone's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name. The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are held accountable for the perpetrator's actions. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The term identity theft was coined in 1964 however it is not literally possible to steal an identity—less ambiguous terms are identity fraud or impersonation.

I’m known to be quite paranoid when travelling, regarding the protection and security of travel documents such as our passports, driver’s licences, credit cards, health cards and the like. One time while waiting at the counter in London, England after a trip through Europe and the UK with my family, I was very direct with my wife and kids with respect to their passports. After confirming they had the document safely and securely in their possession, I put my hand in my back pocket to retrieve mine, but it was gone! Of course everyone broke into a fit of laughter though I didn’t think it was very funny. Fortunately, I looked on the floor and to my relief the passport was next to my feet. Unfortunately though, I lost all credibility and authority to offer any advice to anyone regarding the protection of their travel documents. I had lost my identity because of my own behaviour. To this day, my wife and kids remind me of that incident when we travel together.

While we need to pay attention to the loss of our legal identity more important we need to safeguard our personal identity.

When I think of Donald Trump and Bill Gates, both very rich (once you exceed a billion dollars, how many more billions you have really doesn’t matter) and famous individuals, the act of honour becomes very interesting. Trump goes to great lengths to bestow honour upon himself through his constant self-promotion. Gates has honour bestowed upon him (his "true identity") by others as a result of his generosity and philanthropy. Who has greater credibility, influence, respect and reputation? Who do we have a higher regard for? Gates not only is wealthier financially, but his honour is of such great measure! His identity is less defined by Microsoft as it is now by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

But then there are those who have created lives of great honour only to have honour (their “identity”) stolen from them. Do you know of any individuals in this category? Politicians, church officials, leaders of great organizations, those of a higher status are easy to select. But of a lower order, there are many who have lived lives of great respect, but slowly and inconspicuously, have allowed that precious identity to erode because of the influence of specific behaviours, relationships, actions and decisions. 

So, I might dare to ask you again? Have you been a victim of identity theft? Maybe it’s time that we turn our attention back to the values and principles that made us great as a nation, community, organization and as an individual.

If you look at history, institutions and individuals have been both good and bad. Though we have been both, to focus on the bad instead of learning from it and restoring those affected by it, we need to look to the good that is within our reach. We can either let past actions crush us or use them to restore us!

So, what does it mean to be honourable? To be honourable can only be described by the exemplary lives (“identities”) of others. For example the story is told of Lt. Col. Davidson by Lynda Cromar

Lt. Col. Davison was always an honourable man. He served first in the Army before WWII and then later because he was a pilot was in the newly formed Air Force. He was a career officer until his retirement in the 70′s. At the time of his death he was still serving as a consultant for the Sheriff’s Department of Roswell, [New Mexico]. He and his wife Gladys were married for over 50 years before she died, about two years before he died. They raised three children together and they were honourable people and taught those values to their children.

We don’t talk much about that word Honour, but it’s the thread that runs through high-standing people. In particular today as we honour Veterans of the Services, it is what makes them who they are. They stand for principles, and they never back down from those principles. It’s not in them to take advantage and use others.

This was my Grandfather, my mother’s father. He lived honour. He would have never dreamed of doing anything that would hurt another, he never even had the temptation to cheat or lie. He lived a wonderful life. Maybe he was never rich, but he was in many ways what money cannot buy. I am proud to have known him, and I strive to live the way he did. How he lived taught me more than any words he might have said, he showed it by his everyday example.

I favour this definition of honour.  It is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, company or nation. Accordingly, individuals (or corporate bodies) are assigned worth and stature based on the harmony of their actions with a specific code of honour, and the moral code of the society at large, as defined by “Celebration of Women”.

If I use that definition of honour, and determine and define my identity by it, my objective in life is not to let any person, any behaviour, any action, any event, or any spoken word steal my identity from me.

In many ways, I hope never to be a victim of “identity theft”.