Bracher (Questions & Responses)
Why have political campaigns become so dirty? Why do we put up with politicians
who seek to destroy opponents?
Because a significant segment of our society enjoys wallowing in filth. We
are witness to a proliferation of smut and violence in many segments: television,
movies, comedy, music and writing.
activities reflect a world that worships conquerors
vanquishing opponents. The positive difference in modern
times may be that we no longer literally kill those
whom we defeat. We humiliate them, embarrass their
families and hire "dirty trick" specialists
to distribute disinformation (lies) about their records.
we choose to reward dignity with respect, and social
service with loyalty and honor, we will likely attract
a higher caliber process. Until then, take your gas
mask to the voting booth and elect the lesser smelling
in Jim Bracher's Integrity Matters newspaper
column on December 26, 2002
such as Lott owe their followers integrity"
Trent Lott has apologized for his implied segregationist
view. Many won't forgive him. Others insist he stay
in power. Some Black Leaders are inclined to give him
the benefit of the doubt. Still, the Republican political
agenda is at risk. The stature of the Republican Party
is at risk. In your view, what should be done to restore
the integrity of the Party? "Can this man be saved?"
The Trent Lott furor was created by a lack of accountability. The public conduct
of those who are in leadership roles is subject to examination for consistency
between and among actions, words, and responsibilities. When individuals
in leadership positions exhibit behaviors that expose their flaws, they
have undermined their leadership authority. In the business world, responsible
boards of directors remove those executives. To retain them would expose
the organization to unnecessary financial risk. Should we expect anything
less from our elected officials?
between words and deeds are human, quickly understood,
and often forgiven with an apology. However, fundamental
deficiencies raise serious questions. Can such individuals
be trusted with responsibility-whether in spiritual
life, business, or government? Leaders recognize when
they have broken a trust, and take immediate steps
to correct the problem. First, they acknowledge their
mistakes. Second, they take corrective measures immediately.
Finally, if leaders lose their followers as a result,
the work for which they were responsible may be compromised,
and they step down graciously.
step down out of respect to their followers and colleagues,
and devote on-going efforts to repair the effects of
their errors. Leaders mentor associates to help them
avoid similar mistakes.
a consequence, regardless of the profession, leaders
owe their followers integrity-so that society can be
sustained by a balance between self-interest and social
responsibility. It is not only what you have done to
get into trouble, but also what you do to get out of
trouble that counts. There are consequences for mistakes
for the powerful.
BOX AND BUMPER STICKER
While driving on Highway 1, not too far from Salinas,
a woman passed me in an SUV with a bumper sticker that
proclaimed: "Friends don't let friends
vote Republican!" This made me furious, and it is sticking with me. Thousands
of Americans have died to preserve our right to a free ballot box, free of
prying eyes or coercion. To make a joke of this, or even to suggest that someone
should restrain a friend in such a way--no matter what the party affiliation--is
simply un-American. It also violates, or at least mocks, our integrity as citizens
of a free country. What do you think?
Lost my sense of humor in California!
Dear Citizen with a (temporary) Loss of a Sense of Humor
have already answered your own question when you said
that you had lost your sense of humor. If the bumper-sticker
is being displayed by a narrow-minded, even worse,
close-minded, individual, then why take their position
seriously? You are right, there are many legitimate
positions from which to view problems and make decisions.
the bumper-sticker is self-directed, then how clever
of the person who displays such a sign to be able to
laugh at himself or herself. If the driver is chuckling
at how really silly people can be about a number of
important issues, including partisan politics, then
good for that driver for keeping a healthy perspective.
the other hand, should the pseudo-intellectual and
possibly sarcastic message have been offered for others
to take seriously, there is a more obvious problem
with over simplification and cruelty. Much of what
is important in life needs to remain uncomplicated.
The author, Robert Fulghum, makes some of his life-changing
points about keeping life and values clear and simple
in his best-selling book, All I Really Need to Know
I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common
Things. However, things seldom turn out the best when
certain folks decide that they must communicate their
lofty ideas in some condescending way.
for your original question, what do I think? People
who operate with this overly-simple and judgmental
approach are not worthy of much time or energy. In
contrast, a goodly number of fellow human beings are
doing the best they know how. Liberals and conservatives,
just about everybody, would live a lot more graciously
and productively, if civility would be restored to
politics, religion and education. Too much of what
hurts our pride turns around and negatively impacts
our productivity. We cannot afford such waste of resources,
human and emotional during this era of terrorism, or
even in these demanding economic times. Now, more than
ever, we need one another – on the same team,
moving in the same direction and committed to the values
that built our society in such a way that each one
of us is guaranteed our freedoms. In whatever ways
we support the integrity of our system, we should proceed
with enthusiasm. Ignore the bumper sticker, with the
hope that whoever decided to display it will come to