Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
Somewhere along the way, between the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and the era of Trump that began 230 years later in 2017, we, as a nation, lost our integrity. There is no integrity in our federal government, nor, I suspect, in the states’ governments. There is little, if any, integrity within the medical profession. There is no integrity in the religious community, and less than there should be in our schools. And We The People are complicit in the destruction of integrity in this nation.
We The People are willing to accept a president who lies so much that he would not recognize the truth if it smacked him in the face. We The People are willing to vote into office, members of Congress who take bribes from corporations and lobbyist groups. We The People have supported candidates who beat up reporters, who have broken or failed to uphold the law, who have sexually abused women and children. We The People have failed to hold our elected officials to the highest standards.
Even in the entertainment industry, integrity is obsolete, though perhaps it never applied in that venue, but consider Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and others. Sports? Consider the recent headlines of the Olympic doctor, Larry Nassar, accused of decades of sexual harassment of young athletes.
Surely you don’t think there is integrity in industry? Consider the concept of planned obsolescence, or the way corporations put money into the pockets of lawmakers so that they will vote against regulatory bills to protect the environment and the well being of humans and wild life.
Police departments have largely lost their integrity when for the past several years, African-Americans and Latinos have been profiled, targeted, and often murdered by police for no reason other than the colour of their skin. The officers involved pay little or no penalty. At one point, police departments were under scrutiny by the Department of Justice, but as of last year, the Department of Justice is overseen by a bigot with no integrity.
Integrity. Such a simple concept, really, yet humans seem to find it inceasingly hard to do. Honesty. Values. When the leader of our nation stands in front of television cameras and lies, threatens and incites violence, he is telling us that he has no integrity. When we vote for him, when we support him by any means, we are saying that the nation has lost its integrity.
Perhaps it is time to send the words ‘integrity’ and ‘honesty’ to the archives of obsolete words, such as apricity, elflock, and brabble.
I do not contend that there are not honest people in this nation, for there are and I know some of them. But I do contend that even those honest people, people of integrity, are contributing to the downfall of values in the institutions we once trusted, such as government, churches, schools and hospitals. We are not powerless to stop the corruption in those institutions. We have two things: a voice and a vote. If we choose not to use those tools, we are complicit in enabling the corruption. When we cast a vote for a Roy Moore, a Donald Trump or a Devin Nunes, we are sending a message that we no longer care about integrity. When we support companies that are not environmentally conscientious, we are sending a message that our whims take precedence over protecting the earth. When you support a religion that discriminates against anybody … other races, religions, or the LGBT community, you are sending the message that you are okay with bigotry. Those who say Donald Trump is ‘doing a great job’ are saying, in essence, that they have sold their souls downriver, that they no longer believe in or care about truth, honesty, or humanitarian values.
The sad truth is that in one way or another, we are all complicit in the devaluation of this nation. What started out as a grand idea has fallen prey to greed and human foibles. We can choose to turn it around or not, but if we don’t make some major changes very soon, we will wake up one morning and find we are not who we thought we were.