Integrity Matters
August 1, 2007

Appropriate behavior rules start with No. 1

Question: (E-303)
You recently criticized leaders, including elected officials, for not exhibiting civil behavior. What can be done to change the culture-wide slide into rudeness?

Look into the mirror and make sure appropriate behavior starts there. When mistakes are made, apologize immediately, and commit, yet again, to doing better.

Some people say that we teach best what we most need to learn. Therefore, just about everyone can teach graciousness, since it is too frequently lacking, just about everywhere.

Several years ago, a friend published a book, "One Life at a Time: Making a World of Difference."

Ambassador Robert Seiple, formerly the CEO of World Vision, made the case that with millions of starving children, all over the globe, the place to start was one youngster at a time. His personal mission, and that of World Vision, was to ". . . assist 70 million people each year - to end poverty, fight hunger and transform lives." Bob, along with those who have followed in his footsteps, know that change occurs - very personally - with individuals and their circumstances.

As a consequence, his book illustrates how each lives, are changed, one connection at a time.

And so it is with behavior. Rudeness and other forms of violence will be reduced, if not eradicated, one life and one interaction at a time.

When enough adults decide that our dysfunctional culture needs improvement, which will likely be decided only when the financial and emotional pain become intolerable.

Until then, it is important to remind others and ourselves that positive values emerge when individuals walk the talk.

Here are six recommendations:

  1. Be thoughtful: Time, words and opportunity - when squandered - are lost.
  2. Exercise self-control: Anger, pride and un-forgiveness destroy people.
  3. Represent constructive values: Hope, peace and honesty create effective individuals.
  4. Support others with attentive listening: Love of family and friends strengthens society.
  5. Humility is never out of style: Fortune, success and dreams can be uncertain.
  6. Do the right thing! Commitment, sincerity and hard work are hallmarks of integrity.

Don Adams, comedian-actor, starred in the weekly, short-lived "Get Smart" television program.
There was little to commend the show except for a few one-liners that captured the attention of folks over the age of 45.

More important than "missed it by that much" or "would you believe?" is his summary of the mission of CONTROL, the national security organization for which he worked. Maxwell Smart's sole purpose was to end the nastiness of the adversarial and evil organization called KAOS - by replacing bad behaviors with "niceness."

Integrity, civility and "niceness" begin one person and one interaction at a time.

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