Monday, January 9, 2017

Bugling and Benefits...They Won't Know the Difference

You know the phrase "ignorance is bliss"? Many people use this phrase to shrug off the things in life that come their way they didn't know. They trusted that others knew better and they went along with the "whatever" mentality. Dangerous indeed. This mentality has, over the years, worked its way into two big areas I serve in. I work in the benefits and insurance industry and I am the Alabama State Director for Bugles Across America. The mentality I explained above is why I do what I do in both entities and I am taking a moment to explain why it matters and why everyone should both areas.

A few years ago, I started using my 30+ year training and practice of the trumpet to serve US Veterans who died. A group called Bugles Across America had started up years before to provide a live version of "Taps" played by a real person for as many Veterans as could be done. They couldn't serve in every situation, but the network of over 6,000 buglers across the nation do the best they can. When I became a live bugler for them, the thing that stuck with me was the fact that families of those who had served our country didn't realize that the "Taps" being provided at their loved ones' graveside was a recording hidden inside what looked like a bugle. Military honor guards were issued electronic bugles with an mp3 recording inside of it to mimic the "playing" of "Taps" so that the honor promised could be done. However, buglers and even some military and funeral directors wanted the real deal. They felt the recording was a dishonor for this person who had served our country. Bugles Across America agrees with those people and so it began.

The fact that the Veterans gets these honors at their graveside is great. The problem I had, however, was the phrase that popped up early as I started to play live "Taps". That phrase stung every time it was uttered. The phrase was, "The family doesn't know the difference". That told me two things:
1 - The people uttering these words DID know and they were OK with having it that way.
2 - It's OK to deceive as long as we don't make anyone aware of the difference.
Sad indeed.

The moral is this...I do what I do with Bugles Across America to the best of my ability so people don't let that one moment in time go by not (at least) being educated in the fact that this is happening and give them a choice. You see, I know the difference and to not use my talent to help educate and provide puts me in the camp with all the others who say, "They won't know the difference."

As I have worked in the benefits and insurance industry, the mentality has come up as well. This gets even more dangerous than the "Taps" situation. The mentality of "They won't know the difference", in insurance can cost people thousands of dollars and years of heartache. Let me use a real client example:

I was sitting with a client in a business where I served to provide them my education and benefits offering services. As I spoke with them, I realized that this person was developing a more than quizzical look on their face. I inquired on this and they let out with a story of their parent passing away and everyone thinking that the parent had life insurance that would help pay for the funeral. What they failed to realize was that the life insurance they thought they had was not the kind to help them at this time. You see, their parent had been sold something that would only pay a benefit if the insured died as a result of an accident. The parent died from an illness complication and the policy was of no use at all. As I listened, I explained the difference in what true life insurance is and what their parent was sold. At the time this was offered, the insurance agent didn't advise at all well. In that moment they were thinking of the sale and in essence saying, "They won't know the difference". Truly, truly sad indeed.

The difference is in what is known and giving information and honest advice...even at the cost of a lost sale. We are professionals in this industry. We hold a license to do what we do. The issue is they don't issue licenses to do their best to have integrity and provide people what they need and what they can afford. It's a harder concept to satisfy but it is also well worth it.

I have been asked before why my blog is "The Ramsay Bugle" and how the bugling and benefits are connected. Other than the fact they are both things I am passionate about, these areas are also right up toward the top of the "how they connect" list. We all have things in our lives that we have knowledge of. We also know that, in some cases, to not share that information takes on the mentality of "They won't know the difference." They may not, but if you do and you don't let it be known then where is that line of integrity being drawn?

As I like to do, I found this "Star Wars" video where Ben explains to Luke how he told him that Vader "betrayed and murdered" his father. Most of you know, that's not necessarily the full truth. Watch to the end for a little funny moment as a result: