Does anyone remember what personal integrity means? It's not just something we use to embarrass politicians, but it's something that is supposed to look back at us in the mirror. Integrity is not a category of public image polishing. It is at the heart of that sacred cornerstone of modern American culture: self esteem. When a person has a modicum of personal integrity, he feels good about himself. If he feels good about himself, this is self esteem.
A few years back, some agency or survey was questioning young people from many different countries. They asked them if they thought they were good at math. The American kids all answered in high degrees of the affirmative. Asian children were quite modest about it and all claimed they were only average or below. But the actual test results proved the Asian young people to be dramatically superior to the American kids. Perhaps most of this result is accounted for by cultural differences. The point is simply that we have taught our youth to feel good about themselves when there may be nothing of substance behind that confidence.
When someone shoots several people, invariably some relative comes forward to say, "He's a good boy."
But what is breaking my heart today is what I see in people I love. Kids planning divorce which will destroy their little ones. What part of "better or worse" did they not understand. Or taking a 5 year old into a major theme park, pretending he is three. Don't you hate seeing a liar and cheat in the mirror? Or do you think yourself extremely clever?
Why does my culture scoff at the doctrine of total depravity when people are scamming the medical system with phantom pains. And local catastrophes turn nice neighbors into looters. And sometimes I see a very cheap price for personal integrity, cheating a vending machine out of a few dimes. If all we can get for political candidates are liars and cheats, perhaps it is because there is no one else to choose.