Is integrity dead?

It’s election season for many local and state elections in Louisiana. Occasionally a previous article resonates today just as it did when originally written.  The following is a republished and updated article related to the election year that we are currently in.  The content is general in nature and relates to all positions in our elected process/

When I was a child my father told me, “It doesn’t matter what you become in life.  The important thing is that you are a good man.”  It was as if he had branded this on my brain. He didn’t tell me this once but twice.  This was so impacting to me that I vividly remember both instances. 

Forty-five years later I discovered that he was not the originator of these words.  While researching my first book I found a letter from my grand father addressed to a man that was asking for help acquire a job for a friend.  To paraphrase what his response to his friend was, he stated that. “The man you requested  assistance for could have campaigned against me and he could be a staunch Republican and this doesn’t matter.  What is important is that he is a good man and if you tell me he is, I will help him”. This letter was dated the early 1930s. This resonates every bit as much today as it did in the 30s.  Times may change, issues may change but ethics never change.  

When I left the Navy and re-entered NLU, my first summer class was taught by the founder of the School of Constructions.  The first day of class he handed a very small slip of paper to the students in the class.  Mimeographed on the slips were the words, “Integrity.  Outspoken Honesty.  His actions were above reproach”.  Mr. Potts, our professor, told us, “Memorize this verbatim.  It will be on your first exam and if you take anything away from this class let it be this.”  Potts was a former Marine.  He entered service during World War II and was in the Marine Division that was used as a model for the war movie “Battle Cry”.  He made two landings in the Pacific and was seriously wounded at Okinawa.  Mr. Potts subscribed to the definition of “Integrity” and lived the concept.

Sadly, integrity is losing its’ meaning as a norm for our society and instead of understanding this as a way of life we have to have it taught to us in college courses or be a part of various professional certification requirements. This has perpetuated into politics and unfortunately all politicians are viewed as possessing little or no integrity. The confidence in our congress is at the lowest level since the beginning of our country. There are many politicians that have the utmost integrity in their actions and truly want to do the best for the populace that they represent.  Then there are the elected officials that are more interested in their own good and feel empowered to use the position for personal benefits. These are the few individuals that give such a negative view of our elected officials. This is the condition Louisiana was in during the early 1900s when the Ole Regulars in New Orleans were in power.  Their own interest was the power they sought and possessed.   This came to an abrupt ending in the 1928 elections and the Louisiana laboring class came to the fore front of politics.

There is no place in our election process for dishonesty.  Let the candidate stand on his own merits and beliefs and let the voter determine who they desire to be our leaders based on positive virtues and not negative campaigning..  

Integrity in society begins at home and must be perpetuated throughout the educational and sporting life of a child.  The integrity of our elected officials is truly in the hands of our electoral process.  The one thing that makes every man equal in a Democratic Society  is the concept of one man, one vote.  When a person closes that curtain of the voting booth, that person is free to vote his conscience and thus casts a vote for the person he feels will provide the leadership required to adequately represent his constituents..  The quality of the person we elect to our political positions should, in addition to other attributes, be viewed as “Is he a good man”.

God Bless America and Pray for the Ukraine.  (It appears the prayer does work)

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