“My word, sir, is the ultimate warranty.”
– Edward “Blackbeard” Teech, Blackbeard’s Ghost
I grew up watching this movie, and out of all the dialogue in it, this single sentence is the one that has most stayed with me through the years. It’s just a quick snippet, really, yet it has left a lasting impact.
Just before the climax, when Blackbeard’s living, mortal friend is about to storm off like a hero out of legend to invade the villain’s den and claim what is owed and most desperately needed, all on behalf of some sweet, elderly women in dire circumstance, Blackbeard offers to accompany him. Said mortal friend has, by this point, had enough of Blackbeard’s chaotic antics, so he makes it clear that he is calling the shots on this one, to which Blackbeard immediately replies, “Proud to serve under you.”
This takes the hero aback for a moment, in stunned disbelief. “You mean that?” he asks. To which Blackbeard replies with these words. And that’s enough for the hero. The two march off side-by-side to fight the villain and save the day!
It’s a scene of basic brotherly comradeship, and significant to the story in how Blackbeard, not known for taking orders, is willing to take them from this man, his friend. But that’s not all I take from it.
My word, sir, is the ultimate warranty.
How profound is that?
I want that to be said of me, after I’m gone.
You know, it used to be, in ages past, that even the most vile, despicable, cruel, cunning, brutal, bloodthirsty, awful, and murderous villains and tyrants in the land would keep their word. When a man, or a woman, swore an oath, they were expected, just as a matter of course, to honor it, no matter the circumstance. That is why broken oaths, such as betrayals, desertions, and infidelities, were so horrendous.
Integrity is the bedrock of human interaction, which is the basis of all civilization.
People used to understand that better than they do now, I think.
Now, it’s become commonplace, or even praised, to break one’s word. Sometimes in small, supposedly harmless ways, like, say, leaving work early, or cheating at cards, or rigging a game in your favor. Or taking credit for someone else’s work, which is a little bigger and more harmful. Or cheating a customer in the name of making more money. Or telling a little lie, fudging some numbers here and there. Or cheating on a test. Or on a significant other. Or making a promise you’ve no intention of keeping. Or breaking one without any intention of making it right.
It goes on and on, and it’s depressing to look at.
Yet, even now, integrity is almost universally regarded as one of the greatest virtues of humanity. That is because, without integrity, there can be no trust. If there is no trust, all the ties that bind us dissolve and shatter, taking all of civilization with it. All because if you can’t believe someone, then you can’t believe them.
Truth is singular, and uncompromising, and the truth is that we are either honest, or we are not.
Mind you, we can always change, either becoming liars or becoming honest men, but we cannot be both at the same time.
On which note, I am happy to say… there are truly honest people in the world. Not “special” people. Honest, everyday people, like you and I.
They can do it, so we can, too.
And that is how you save the world. 😉