The fraternal twins of honesty and integrity have been under assault this past year. Truth was on the run, and it had to fight off liars, misleading news and self-indulgent sexual predators. On a positive note, the truth gave a comeuppance to a sizable number of prominent perpetrators of sexual assault. Still, honesty and integrity lost more than they won.
Those who engage in circulating fake news and dishonest statements and who commit sexual assault lack self-discipline, decency and integrity.
Here is a fine definition of integrity from the Latter-day Saint Young Women set of values: “I will have the moral courage to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong.” Exercising integrity will bring our aspirational values, our professed character and the precepts of conscience into harmony with our actions. Integrity integrates the various parts of one’s life into a consistent whole, to be the same with all people and under all stresses.
Integrity forbids a married person from flirting with someone other than their spouse, telling lies, physically or mentally assaulting subordinates with sexual and other mistreatment or behaving toward some people one way and others differently because they are poor, a minority, a person of color, less powerful or different from us. As a society, we must instill in our children and youth these elemental values, these indispensable principles of conduct. We do this mostly by living them.
Within integrity’s bounds is a little known frontier. It can be reached by trekking on a narrow path — a steep and hilly climb. On arrival, you will find few inhabitants, because it is hard to abide by the rules that prevail there. Gossiping about, judging, unjustly criticizing, making fun of or demeaning other human beings have been banished. There are no putdowns, no snarky dismissals, no caricatures, no stereotypes, no social classes. Few people can stand such rarefied air.
A consistent, integrated person must harmonize his or her thoughts, feelings, words and acts with espoused principles. Protesting that such principled consistency is an impossible task is no sufficient answer. Stephen Curry only makes two-thirds of layup attempts, yet he’s arguably still the best in the NBA. Because he is less than perfect hardly proves that he shouldn’t try at all. Even eliminating a Curry-like two-thirds of your judging and unjust criticisms will change your heart and elevate your life profoundly. Letting go of judgment, stereotyping and unnecessary criticism is most satisfying and uplifting. Peace of mind and respect for others soon replace the sour cankers in our hearts. Warmth, acceptance and even affection follow this effort.
Literally hundreds of times, my judgments of others have proven to be shallow, biased and uninformed. With some exceptions, I have no right to judge people anyway. We don’t need to judge others very often at all. Leave that to God.
In the recent movie "Viceroy’s House," we see Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, charged with bringing about India’s independence. He consults with the remarkable Mahatma Gandhi about how to broker an arrangement between hard-edged political opponents. Gandhi tells Mountbatten and his wife that he has a secret way to do it. The Mountbattens lean in to hear his whispered answer. He says, “Love.” They could not grasp how this utopian idea could possibly work to stem the tempest of racial and religious passion they dealt with. Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and other revered souls are widely respected, but mostly ignored in “down-to-earth” things like business and politics.29 comments on this story
Many believe they are entitled to condemn, belittle and even hate their political opponents. While we should condemn racism, misogyny and lying — and should argue against wrong-headed policies and immoral acts — we can still treat every person with respect. Fulminating against our opponents doesn’t advance anything positive, and it certainly hurts us. I have learned the truth of the saying that “contention is wrong, even when you’re right.”
At the close of the Civil War, two-thirds of a million people had died, countless millions of dollars had been consumed and America was near exhaustion because of a misguided rebellion. Yet, Lincoln forgave all. He uttered these immortal words, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive … to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
Remarkable and timely counsel from a hard-headed and practical politician.