By Atticus Andrew
If we were to take a poll—and please, let’s not—asking via the poll where personal integrity should be placed among our priorities, most of us would, I trust, place one's moral steadfastness at or near the top of our value systems..
But in reality, there’s a lot of hard evidence to the contrary. In the current environment especially, unprincipled people are among the most admired. Why? Because they possess power. Or excessive wealth. Or both. And no matter how their “success power” was achieved, worldly renown, even if weak, appears to be the value , or sign of, most admired among us.
No surprise, really. We are constantly propagandized with the notion that wealth and power are the primary measures of achievement. Sadly, to me, this view receives substantial support from its opposite: the idea that you are insignificant if you do not have considerable monies in your vault and known to possess the ability to steer political and social programs in the direction you desire.
Little wonder, too, that the responses to our most critical social and environmental issues are frequently being determined by those who have acquired the greatest monetary and political power. If they don’t want climate control, we don’t get it. If they want their candidate to be elected, he or she is.
Of course, there’s a lot of noise and clamor about personal integrity amid our societal crises, usually about the lack of it in our decision-makers. But seldom do we see it highlighted, praised, that is, for its foundational relevance to our democracy.
One reason for our massive social weakness in this ares is, I think: because it is ever too easy to write off people with personal integrity as self-righteous do-gooders. Everybody has a mean streak, we presume. Everybody cheats to some degree, we also think, letting the liars and cheats off the hook.
But are those with integrity really that weak? I think not. For example, we have observed in the post 2020 presidential election, that certain individuals have stood boldly by their understanding of “the Law,” placing themselves at considerable professional risk in their confrontations with the powerful.
Yet, we also have observed others who have been just as bold in their opposition to such upstanding people, sticking at all costs with those they deem to be the real power-brokers.
Our values arise from within our society, I believe. And over time, they can change. We once thought women should not vote, nor should Blacks. Now they do.
But while we collectively value Abe’s honesty, who among us really expects a 2021 Abe to stand up and be counted.
Do we really want to let personal integrity be swallowed up in the ugly swampland of American politics and Wall Street shenanigans. If not, we must make our voices known, and demand goodness in our leaders by voting out those who have become totally selfish and by voting in those who show the greatest personal integrity?
And it should go without saying. Personal integrity begins with me, and you.
Jan 4-11, 2021