I know we’ve entered the Christmas season and really need the joy, hope, and relationships with friends and family we all desperately need right now. But before we box up the recent election and put it away on a dark closet shelf, I also need to get some things off my chest and into the ether of public debate.
I recently read a good article in which Anouare Abdou suggested four powerful company values for the modern workplace: ethics and integrity, respect, innovation, and gratitude. It hit me that these are the kinds of things I hope our elected officials – both new and old – would not only promise to enact but also would actually hold to and display consistently in their governing activity.
But that’s the problem, right? Too often we see a very diverse color palate of ethical behavior among those seeking and holding public office. There seems to be a certain proclaimed ethic for campaigning and quite another for governing, which leaves us with a profound understanding that, for too many politicians, their integrity isn’t even skin deep. They are out for personal prestige, power and wealth, and like actors, will put on whatever ethical costume is necessary to be applauded.
And their lack of respect for we the people is demonstrated in their lack of respect for common decency, especially in the way they treat those with whom they differ. How horrible it is to watch those occupying positions of importance and honor acting so dishonorably! And I greatly fear that the volume of name calling and outright, mean-spirited, slanderous and criminal activity grows loudest where the crippling subterfuge is the deepest.
And what about innovation? How many times are our leaders going to roll out the same outdated and ineffective litany of committees, new agencies, study groups, regulations, executive orders, and outlandish promises loaded with goodies for all those who will stand up and cheer?
Finally, could we please find some who will cast off the present foolish reappraisal of all things American, who will act with historical integrity, respect, and sincere gratitude for all who came before us, and upon whose shoulders we all stand?
So here is my post-election wish list for all who now hold elected offices. First, have an ethical system that recognizes natural law, historical precedent, and common sense, and then stick to it with the kind of integrity you expect from those in your closest circle of friends.
Next, learn that you only deserve respect if you are respectable. Stop with the infantile name calling, slander, and bullying of those who differ with you and hold you accountable. After all Mr. and Mrs. Politician, you are not your own! You work for us, and we are fed up with your obfuscation, your huffing and puffing about your opponents, and the accompanying lack of diligence in doing your job and serving our best interests.
Next, we need some innovation. I wish those who lead would move on from the hurts of the past and actually bring us some answers to the very real problems America is facing. As an example, I don’t care what Hunter Biden has done but I do care about inflation, corruption in governmental programs, and the fact that year after year the legislative and executive branches continue to take us further and further into debt. Spoiler alert: Debt is dangerous, and it kills the economy. This is true for a family, and also for a nation.
Lastly, I wish our elected officials, in fact all Americans, would cast off our infatuation with cynicism, criticism, and cancellation, and show some gratitude for the good things we enjoy. Without an attitude of gratitude we have little chance of finding the light in this dark world. If we keep training our eyes to see what’s wrong, we’ll certainly miss our chance to do what is right, to champion what is good and righteous and profitable.
The American dream stands on the foundation of “In God We Trust.” And it has been built out of the bricks of ethical belief and integrous activity, respect for self and others, innovation in the face of challenge, and gratitude for the privilege of living in God’s world. Our founding fathers held these truths to be self-evident, derived from natural law, and essential to the maintenance of civil, prosperous society.
Is America in trouble? You be the judge. But regardless of how you feel our politicians are performing, you’ll have to agree that if we keep doing what we’re doing we’ll keep getting what we’ve got. I’m praying two things. First, that it’s not too late, and second, that you and I can help make us better.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.