Moral Decline = Integrity Deficit…Maybe

Lots of people are upset about the housing market situation, and Obama’s bail-out of the irresponsible.

One such reaction, including my somewhat crotchety response to it, is here.

Here’s another round-up of thoughts, published by Jonah Goldberg, and all are in response to his post that owing more on a house than it is worth isn’t really a catastrophe.

I like going off on tangents, though, and this time is no exception.  Here’s the one comment that struck me:

Well, your point is correct if your house is only mildly underwater. The neighborhood I live in California, average price got up to $485,000 and has now dropped to below $165,000. When my wife and I first moved in it was a nice neighborhood, it is now vacated and families of 10 are moving in next to us. You tell me, does it make business sense to pay a mortgage on something like that when we were deceived about the value of the home in the first place? And the reason the prices dropped so drastically is because banks decided to give anyone a loan, so when they all started defaulting it sent everyone’s prices into a major drop. That price will never come back, not in my lifetime. So yes, walking away is the best option even if we can afford the payments.

I don’t know who wrote that, and I certainly don’t know their political and social views.  But since it is a Corner reader, I would bet he (or she?) subscribes to all sorts of moral stances.  Some may include: you shouldn’t abort for your own convenience.  You shouldn’t depend on government subsidies for your whole life.  Politicians who promise things to buy votes are bad.  High taxes, wealth distribution, and socialism are bad.

But when it comes down to brass tacks, the writer is going to ignore what is right, and do what is best for him.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat through leadership talk after leadership talk after commander’s call after leadership self-introduction, etc, etc, etc, where “integrity” is mentioned as a self-described trait and/or value.  And then, integrity gets thrown out the window when it comes time to handing out awards (gotta take care of people I couldn’t take care of earlier, help someone who is up for promotion), following regulations (getting things done is more important than doing things according to the process when a senior leader is expecting results), taking care of your own people, etc.

I saw someone else the other day who wrote that she didn’t think high moral standards needed to include the prohibition of co-habitation anymore.  Her reasoning was that the morality of not living together was no longer necessary since contraceptives (and abortion?) can prevent unwanted pregnancies, and the social cost of carrying an unexpected, out-of-wedlock pregnancy to term isn’t as prohibitive as it was before.

But the common thread in all this is that people don’t want to apply moral standards to themselves. 

I’ve seen many leaders struggle to define integrity.  Some say is is merely “doing as you say”, but if you say you are going to cheat on your wife, are you acting with integrity?  Of course not.  Others have said it is acting consistently.  But if you are consistently a back-stabber, are you acting with integrity?  Of course not.

To me, integrity is simple: act exactly the same, no matter who is watching, even if no one is watching.  Think, act, say the same things, as if someone you want to impress is sitting right there, watching you.  Sort of a variation on the “What Would Jesus Do?” wristbands.

Of course, it is difficult/impossible to do that every second of your life…but it should be your goal.

I don’t do it myself, I admit.  Sometimes I screw off writing on this blog when I should be working.  And I wouldn’t do that if my boss were sitting right behind me watching my computer screen, right?

But I recognize it as a moral failing, and integrity problem, and I am working on it.

Most people don’t.  Most people excuse themselves.

I deride liberals as those who reject any conservative moral standards mostly because they don’t want to be judged by a few specific conservative moral standards they either currently, or wish to, violate.  That’s why most of the time, the older you get the more conservative you get: you’ve learned from experience that morality is a received wisdom of what works in life, as refined by the crucible of lifetimes of trial and error.

But I would also bet that few consider themselves amoral and lacking in integrity.

I would prefer that people recognize and acknowledge morality for what it is, and then have the integrity to admit they reject this or that moral guidance, and thus are willing to accept the social and natural consequences of that rejection…and then if there are no natural consequences of that rejection, then after a few decades, they can make the case that new standards of morality (i.e., what works in life) have been demonstrated.

Most liberal “morality” doesn’t work that way, though.  They declare a new morality, claim that there are no negative natural consequences, deride any negative social consequences as being purely the result of bigotry and prejudice…and then when the natural consequences arrive, demand that the government do something to prevent it.

Any student of US history can pretty easily see that cycle evident in the sexual revolution, drug use, homosexuality, relaxing of divorce rules, abortion, etc, etc, etc.  Those that don’t see it are fooling themselves.


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Filed under Badly-Thought Out Rants, economics, philosophy, Politics, rant, Social Issues, Two Kinds of People...

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