Monday, January 10, 2011


Although I’m pretty sure each blog I write shows that I find inspiration in unusual places, I think the Harry Potter books have opened my scope of inspiring sources to a new “unusual”. The one event that has inspired me the most in the series was when Dumbledore awarded Neville Longbottom ten points for Gryffindor in the 1st book. Neville received the points because he showed courage not by confronting his enemies but by standing up to his friends when he believed they were doing something wrong. His actions introduced me to the idea of integrity, but I never completely understood it until my Brave Bystander showed me how much courage it really takes to have integrity.


“Ok, here we go!” My teacher said. “Pencils out, clear your desks, it’s test time!”

Test time, how wonderful, I thought sarcastically. Maybe after test time we can write a paper too!

I may have been a little grouchy about the test that day, but I knew I had no reason to complain about anything. I was not dealing with ridiculous workloads or issues with family or friends. My only concern at that moment was doing well on my test. Exchanging my pink sunglasses with racecar flag print for my pencil, I heard my teacher tell us to take our time on the test because there were a few trick questions. I felt my stomach sink as I thought, Trick questions? Really, you HAD to tell us that? Once I received my test, I tried to clear my mind of those uneasy thoughts and got to work.

Hmmm, this one’s a little tricky but I think I got it…..Yeah, that one’s “A”……on and on this commentary was going on in my head, like two sportscasters were giving me the play-by-play of my progress. Just as my hand started cramping, I heard one of the mustachioed guys in my head call a time out.

As I took a look around my classroom, I noticed every student was intently focused on the test. Nearby me I saw my Brave Bystander gripping a pencil with and staring the test down with a deeply focused gaze. Dang, I guess everyone’s probably got their own set of sportscasters in their minds right now, I thought. Nice to know I’m not the only one.

Once my hand had stopped throbbing, I went back to completing my test. These questions aren’t TOO horrible. I wonder what my teacher meant by trick questions???

Right at that moment I heard a collective “Ugh!” from my class. As I turned to the final page of my exam, I realized that my teacher had made all the trick questions about topics we had barely discussed. Internally moaning myself, I thought, Great, I read about this stuff a month ago! What am I supposed to do???

I hunkered down and tried to “process-of-elimination” my answers to the last five questions. Around me I heard kids in my class asking the teacher for help, but I tried to tune them out. I was able to answer four of the last five questions, but the last trick question had me wavering between two answers. It could be this one right? But I don’t remember reading about this!!! Still, this one makes more sense….But what about the other one? AHHH, What is happening here?

I could tell this was the question that was stumping everyone in my class. I heard people asking my teacher about how to understand the question, if this answer or that answer made more sense, any and every question available. I can’t think!!!! Which answer is it?? Which answer…. And then, as if someone turned on the light bulb in my head, I remembered the answer. My teacher went over an example of this in lecture! I KNOW WHICH ANSWER IT IS!!!

I put down my answer choice, turned in my test, and before I knew it, class was over. And it’s a slam dunk for Mariam! I heard the sportscasters say in my head.

As I was leaving my class that day, I noticed my Brave Bystander fiddling with some papers on the desk. “Hey, BB, what did you think of that test? Crazy, wasn’t it?” I asked.

“Yeah, I guess so….” BB responded. How unusual, I thought. BB usually always has something funny to say. “Is everything ok?” I asked.

After a few moments of deliberation, BB asked me, “Abi, did you change the answers on your test to what people said in class?”

What??? I thought. Oh no, BB thinks I cheated on this test! “No, of course I didn’t do that BB! I was wavering on the last question until I remembered our teacher lecturing on one of the answer choices.” Ouch, I thought. Why would BB say something like that?

BB said, “Oh, okay. I just thought that you changed your answers because everyone in our class was leaning toward one of them.” As BB left the classroom, BB waved at me and gave me a little smile.

After that event, I felt a bit offended by BB. I couldn’t understand why BB would have confronted me like that. Luckily now, a little while later, I realize BB was trying to make sure I wasn’t doing anything to debase my own character. As uncomfortable as it made BB, s/he still did what s/he had to do to protect and uplift me. I’d say it was an action worthy of one hundred Gryffindor points J.

Lesson Learned: Demonstrating integrity can be very difficult at times, but it truly is what makes someone a good person. Sure, it may be hard to tell your friends, your family members, even your parents when they are doing something wrong or offensive, but you have to let them know that you are only trying to help them make better choices. It will take time, but building integrity in your character is the most important step to being a good person J.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.” Jim Stovall


  1. Abi: You have given us another inspiring lesson. Integrity is also doing the right thing when you know and believe it is the right thing to do. Often we know what is right but will not do it because of peer pressure, self-interest, fear of not being part of the “in-group”, cowardice, whatever… Here are some lines on integrity from “Scent of a Woman” as delivered by Al Pacino in his stellar performance:
    Makers of men, creators of leaders — be careful what kind of leaders you're producing here. I don't know if Charlie's silence here today is right or wrong, I'm no judge or jury. But I can tell you this — he won't sell anybody out to buy his future! And that, my friends, is called integrity. That's called courage. Now that's the stuff leaders should be made of. [pause] Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was; without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too...damn...hard. Now here's Charlie, he's come to the crossroads. He has chosen a path. It's the right path. It's a path made of principle, that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey. You hold this boy's future in your hands, committee! It's a valuable future. Believe me! Don't destroy it — protect it, embrace it. It's gonna make you proud one day, I promise you.

  2. Abi so true! You have an amazing insight. With integrity there are no gray areas! you either have or you don't.

  3. Abiye:
    You are absolutely right in today's world it is rare to encounter integrity. It is indeed amazing the gifts you have from God that has enabled you understand this truth this early in life. Mom is so proud of you honey.
    I enjoyed your blog. may god continue to bless you my dera.

  4. Abby,

    I like the new photo with each blog entry.
    How many ways is there to spell your first name?

  5. Well written and causes self reflection. I can relate to becoming comfortable with my difficiencies and lack in character but it is essential to be challenged by friends and family otherwise who will? The awarding of Gryffindor points is an interesting perspective, but integrity could be convoluted with the introduction of points. Keep up the good work...

  6. I was Principal of the Day, when a child had to come down to the principal's office because he had pushed/touched another student. My principal was inappropriately touched as a child, so when the child came down to the office, the principal had a voice that no person in our school has ever heard. As the child gets up to leave, the principal said,"Integrity is what holds the world from lies. This is the most important thing to have." You can prove this point just from the strength of words that are written by you, Abi Mariam. The girl who brings smiles to many faces, and faces that smile back to her. Your monthly posts are what take us away from our *Gray* glasses, and open our eyes to a bright *Yellow* pair of glasses.
    You Go All the Way!