Some weeks ago, a person made me notice my words were not being consistent with my actions. I don’t expect any person to be 100% consistent between what they say and do, but one can definitely see a pattern of virtue in those who do. It made me think: who are the people who I know to be consistent?

They don’t seem to be stubborn or rigid. If anything, stubborn people seem to be incapable of noticing they changed their minds, they prefer to twist what they said so that it fits their actions better. They think they are consistent because any evidence of the contrary is promptly squashed.

Some (not all of them) have an ideological framework which seems to account for some of the consistency. They might be fervent Christians or Muslims, staunch hippies or libertarians, zealots of a particular philosophy or way of life. The consistency arises from aligning to a comprehensive way of thinking and acting. Still, within these groups one finds innumerable hypocrites among a small cadre of consistent individuals.

If they do not possess an ideological framework, they sure possess a great deal of self-knowledge. The problem is not trivial: the person who speaks today is not the same person who acts tomorrow. If you invite somebody to go on vacations with you next summer, when the time comes you may think it’s not a good idea.

The consistent person isn’t the one who sticks to his word despite all consequences. It’s the person who was wise enough not to give his word unless he was certain about it. These people sign contracts with their words, so they don’t go around making empty statements.

A part of it seems to be culturally conditioned. “I will send it tomorrow” and then asking for time extensions is the norm in Mexico, while in most of Europe and North America this would be a faux pas. If we agree that some cultural practices are sexist and thus should be addressed, then we can also agree that not all cultural practices are desirable and we need to address these too.

In the end I was glad this was pointed out to me. It made me appreciate people whom I consider true to their word. They are like finding fixed rocks while climbing a crumbling wall. The consistency seems to be part of a larger development of personality which still eludes me.

I would like to become a fixed rock too.