Integrity and Honor

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Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

A familiar story with a new sequel every two years, cheating Olympians, completely baffles me. Why are certain athletes willing to trade their integrity for an Olympic medal? Why are certain coaches and/or trainers willing to look the other way or even aid and abet? Don’t they realize that wearing a gold medal and being an Olympic champion are not equivalent? There is no victory in cheating.

“Winning is nice if you don’t lose your integrity in the process.” — attributed to Arnold Horshak, character in the television sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”

“…a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.” — from the Disney movie “Cool Runnings”

Playing by the rules is more than sportsmanship. It is a reflection of honesty: honesty toward others and honesty with one’s self. And isn’t honesty at the heart of integrity? There’s another integrity aspect: having and following a “moral compass.”

“Integrity means adopting a morally strong value system and having the honesty, courage and conviction to live and act within these values.” — Clancy Cross

This definition leads to two thoughts. First, integrity is an inside job, which means it’s a personal decision.

“We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.” — John C. Maxwell

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” — John C. Maxwell

Second, integrity is so important to building and maintaining relationships that a person’s greatest gift may be to live a life of integrity that inspires and encourages others to raise their standards and commitment to integrity. Ideally, an integrity foundation is built in the home during the formative childhood years and is forever nurtured by teachers, pastors, friends, colleagues and others.

“The reward for doing right is mostly an internal phenomenon: self-respect, dignity, integrity, and self- esteem.” — Dr. Laura Schlessinger

“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” — Bible, Proverbs 20:7

“The effect of one upright individual is incalculable.” — Oscar Arias

“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” — Socrates

This ideal picture of integrity breaks down because inevitably, moral and ethical principles will be violated. The realization that human perfection is unachievable is not a new revelation. So, how can there be integrity when everyone commits violations against his own principles? It would seem that the only logical alternative for avoiding universal hypocrisy is to adopt a personal philosophy devoid of moral principles. Some would say “moral relativism” is an attempt to do just that. (That’s a topic for another day.) Actually, the paradox dissolves when we fully understand the final piece of integrity.

“Honor isn’t about making the right choices. It’s about dealing with the consequences.” — Midori Koto

How does a person of integrity respond to his own moral failings? First, he makes a humble admission of and apology for the offense, totally free of excuses. Conversely, “I’m sorry I did it, but …” is hardly an effective confession. Second, the person of integrity takes ownership of the consequences and makes appropriate reparations. Finally, integrity demands a commitment to do better. After that, the rest is up to those who were offended. Will they forgive? Will they hold a grudge? Whatever the aggrieved party decides, a person of the highest integrity will accept the verdict with grace and move on.

Humility is what allows integrity to survive moral indiscretions. Even so, it’s important to realize that it takes more time to develop integrity than to destroy it and even more time to restore it when it is damaged. While Integrity has some room for errors, just one momentary indiscretion has the potential to be a major setback against a lifetime of progress. This implies that people serious about their integrity should behave as if any violation will destroy it and when necessary, respond with humility and urgency to restore it.

“Honor is like a steep island without a shore: one cannot return once one is outside.” — Nicholas Boileau-Despréaux

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.” — Thomas Paine, author, statesman

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” — William Shakespeare

Life without integrity is a miserable and pathetic existence. So, in a sense, hanging on to integrity is a matter of life and death.

“What is left when honor is lost?” — Publilius Syrus (~100 BC), Maxims

“Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.” — Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

God bless,

— CC

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© Copyright September 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Essay By Committee

For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present.1 We continue to see increases in taxation, regulations and entitlements, each resulting in the surrender of more liberty.  The discourse of our time reflects the rationale behind this. “Rights” have replaced “personal responsibility” and “equal opportunity” now means “equal outcome.” But reality teaches that a society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.2

The philosophy of “spreading the wealth around” is gaining new traction, putting Americans on an accelerated course toward unabashed dependency on government. We may soon be known as the US2A (United Socialist States of America) and what a shame! Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.3

Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what has worked with what sounded good. In area after area- crime, education, housing, race relations- the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.4 For example, it is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer “universal health care.”5

The most basic question is not what is best but who shall decide what is best.6 It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.7 Besides, the best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.8

No single person possesses anything close to the invisible collective knowledge held by the society as a whole.9 The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that’s why it’s so essential to preserving individual freedom.10 Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.11

People who denounce the free market and voluntary exchange, and are for control and coercion, believe they have more intelligence and superior wisdom to the masses. What’s more, they believe they’ve been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. Of course, they have what they consider good reasons for doing so, but every tyrant that has ever existed has had what he believed were good reasons for restricting the liberty of others.12

SOLUTIONS

How do we get back on course and stay there?13

The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending.14 Elections should be held on April 16th- the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.15

Teach basic economics starting in grade school. The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.16 The second lesson of economics: the most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.17 Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it.18

Work to restore the original concept of “rights.” A right, such as a right to free speech, imposes no obligation on another, except that of non-interference. The so-called right to health care, food or housing, whether a person can afford it or not, is something entirely different; it does impose an obligation on another. If one person has a right to something he didn’t produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That’s because, since there’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.19

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don’t have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.20

CONCLUSION

I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves.21 Perhaps, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”22 Put another way, politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.23

The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.24 Three-fifths to two-thirds of the federal budget consists of taking property from one American and giving it to another. Were a private person to do the same thing, we’d call it theft. When government does it, we euphemistically call it income redistribution, but that’s exactly what thieves do — redistribute income. Income redistribution not only betrays the founders’ vision, it’s a sin in the eyes of God.25

The task of weaning various people and groups from the national nipple will not be easy. The sound of whines, bawls, screams and invective will fill the air as the agony of withdrawal pangs finds voice.26 America needs a government, not a “giverment.” We have it within our power to begin the world over again.27 The time for action is now. It’s never too late to do something.28

God bless,

— CC

ABOUT “ESSAY BY COMMITTEE”
This essay is comprised of 28 separate quotations, by 10 different people and strung together as if they had coauthored the piece.  Each quotation starts either at the beginning of a paragraph or where the previous quote ended and ends at the reference number.
Italicized texts are my contributions as “committee chair.”

1 Reagan, Ronald. 1981 Inaugural Address, <www.reaganfoundation.org/reagan/speeches/first.asp>
2 Friedman,
Milton quoted by Burton Folsom, Jr.
<www.fee.org/Publications/the-Freeman/article.asp?aid=8332>
3 Sowell, Thomas. <www.worldofquotes.com>
4 Sowell, Thomas. <www.theadvocates.org/celebrities/thomas-sowell.html>
5 Sowell, Thomas. “Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene”, Feb. 25, 2004, <townhall.com>
6 Sowell, Thomas. <www.worldofquotes.com>
7 Sowell, Thomas. <www.brainyquote.com>
8 Reagan, Ronald. <www.quotationspage.com>
9 Goldberg, Jonah paraphrasing Friedrich Hayek. <freedomkeys.com/intellectuals.htm>
10 Friedman, Milton. “Free to Choose”, <miltonfriedman.blogspot.com/>
11 Rand,
Ayn. “For The New Intellectual”, <aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/freedom.html>
12 Williams,
Walter. “WorldNetDaily”, <www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56713>
13 Thomas,
Claude. <pastorclaudethomas.us/getting-back-on-course/>
14 Sowell, Thomas. Interview by John Hawkins, <www.rightwingnews.com/interviews/sowell.php>
15 Sowell, Thomas. <thinkexist.com>
16 Sowell, Thomas. “Is Reality Optional? – And Other Essays” p.131
17 Friedman, Milton. <www.brainyquote.com>
18 Sowell, Thomas. <www.icelebz.com>
19 Williams,
Walter E. June 6, 2007, <www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/wew/articles/07/compassion.htm>
20 Williams,
Walter E. <www.quotationcollection.com/author/Walter_E._Williams/quotes>
21 Reagan, Ronald. Reason Magazine, July 1975, <www.reason.com/news/show/29318.html>
22 Reagan, Ronald. <politicalhumor.about.com>
23 Reagan, Ronald. <www.quotationspage.com>
24 Reagan, Ronald. <www.quotationspage.com>
25 Williams,
Walter E. “Capitalism Magazine”, Feb. 8, 2006, <www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=4562>
26 Bowles,
Linda. <www.tsowell.com>
27 Paine,
Thomas quoted by Ronald Reagan. March 8, 1983, <www.ronaldreagan.com/sp_6.html>
28 de Saint-Exupery,
Antoine. <thinkexist.com>