March 17, 2008

Integrity Issues

Watching the news from Albany this morning, I couldn't help but note that in the past four years the three Governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York have resigned in disgrace. Is there something in the water in the tri-state area, something that encourages its Governors to tragically succumb to their baser instincts?

All three were promising rising stars of their parties, all with national potential and thrilling political careers ahead of them. Young, wealthy, and popular, they had merely to master their own sloppy impulse control to make a tremendous impact and do wondrous good for their constituents, and yet all three revealed a hammartia particularly unsuitable for high public office: corrupt John Rowland from Connecticut felt he was entitled to free home improvements in exchange for state contracts, cronyism laid Jim McGreevey low when he hired his boyfriend as the State’s Security Advisor, and libidinous Eliot Spitzer was unable to restrain himself from indulging with prostitutes.

There are many arguments being made in the media regarding whether prostitution should in fact be against the law, and at several thousand dollars an hour, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that Kristen was being exploited. Simultaneously, the Mann Act is a relic of a bygone era, inherently misogynistic and patronizing, and by its very existence implying a feminine helplessness and inequality to men. In fact, I've broken that law myself several times as has any man who's taken his girlfriend on vacation out of state. Yet however insulting and archaic,violating the Mann Act remains against the law, as does soliciting a prostitute, and those are laws that Spitzer swore to uphold.

Integrity is simple: you do what you say you’re going to do, by when you say you’re going to do it. You do what you know you should do, even if no one’s watching, even if no one’s told you to do it. So don’t run for Governor if you’re unwilling to keep your oath of office.

My favorite politician Thomas Brackett Reade once said “I do not expect, by acting thus, to escape criticism; merely not to deserve it.” Integrity is the suit of armor you wear against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, it provides you with a simple template for life – not for ensuring that things never go wrong, but for ensuring that you can remain inherently authentic, genuine, and committed in the face of things that will absolutely go wrong. Face into the wind, integrity is the sure place on which to stand when the world rages around you.

Our society is based on a reasonable expectation of each other’s behaviors. We rely on each other being reliable. More importantly, we make decisions based on one another’s integrity every day. When we’re let down so dramatically, when we encounter such stunning hypocrisy, it’s a devastating blow to the very underpinnings of our co-existence. Hypocrisy isn’t the most deadly, impactful, or immediate danger in our world, but it is the most insidious. It’s the rot from within that weakens our faith in one another and the institutions that we rely on. And it’s cumulative; there’s no such thing as an insignificant disappointment.

You get to choose integrity, everyday. It’s voluntary. Not because you have to, but because it’s good for you, and because it’s good for all of us.

None of this may be true, but it makes sense nevertheless.


At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Chris Leonard said...

We need some new Dan updates. I'm sick of coming here and seeing Spitzer's ugly mug.

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't stand this horrible man's face! Please post something else, so that when I check it, I don't see Mr. Monkey Head. Put up kittens, or martinis, or superheroes. Anything!!!


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