Archive for July, 2011

 

About My Book, Integrity:The Indispensable Element, 2010

July 26th, 2011
Jim Thomas

 The word “integrity” comes at us from every angle, context, setting, and venue. An Atlanta apartment complex is named “Integrity Heights.” A car dealer states on its outdoor signage, “We sell integrity.” A mortuary declares “We offer integrity when you need it the most.” A U.S. Senator describes a supreme court nominee as “a man of integrity” During the recession, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, one citizen wrote “Wall street was where integrity went to die.” I could go on.

But ask for definitions of it and a dozen are forthcoming. In the abstract, the cardinal virtue of integrity is thick with meanings. Albeit, we know it when we see it. Furthermore, when have you heard, or read, of its rules of practice, motivations, impediments, its everlasting benefits and returns, or its legitimate rules of compromise?

 Integrity: The Indispensable Element sets forth the missing links. It bridges the gap between the virtue in thought and action. Part One pares it   to its fundamentals, drawing upon authorities of the ages. Part Two consists of profiles and incidents of integrity. Here are a collection, of men and women who demonstrate what it means to stand by convictions, often at great personal cost.

 The sketches are drawn from literature, business and commerce, the arts, politics, statecraft, and the Army. Two examples. Pablo Casals, the great cellist, though he and his family were in dire circumstances in occupied France during World War II, refused to play in Nazi Germany. This followed the German offer to satisfy all his material needs—food, coal, hospitable living accommodations. A Nobel prize-winning author said of Casals, “Here was a musician who came to the rescue of humanity’s honor.”

 The other example is taken from Army life, the unimpeachable character of General George C. Marshall. When he retired in 1947, following an extraordinary career of achievement, publishers in great numbers made offers for his memoirs. The Saturday Evening Post offered $1million, a huge sum at the time. He declined all proposals. He said, “The memoirs would require me to comment upon those who served under me and may cause pain on the part of some who did the best they could. Besides,” he added, “my country has fully compensated me for my services.”

 The book was published by Alliance for Integrity, LLC, Dublin, Georgia, 2010. Other information is on the website.

Perjury Can Result When Integrity Is Cast Aside

July 25th, 2011
Jim Thomas

In a new book, James B. Stewart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, contends that telling the truth while under oath is on the decline. Title of his work is Tangled Webs, with the subtitle: How False Statements Are Undermining America—From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff.

The author writes, “Mounting evidence suggests that the broad public commitment to telling the truth under oath has been breaking down, eroding over recent decades, a trend that has been accelerating in recent years.” He goes on to say, “Perjury has infected nearly every aspect of society. There is too much lying in America.”

Mr. Stewart admits his thesis is difficult to prove. However, in support of it he points to the high profile cases in which defendants were prosecuted, not merely for lying under oath but lying to investigators and federal officials while not under oath. His evidence includes case studies of Martha Stewart, Lewis Libby, Barry Bonds, and Bernard Mad off.

Whether Mr. Stewart makes a persuasive case is for his readers to decide. In the post-Enron era, however, many Americans believe that lying is one of many breaches growing ever more common. If it is not vanishing, Integrity is being tested as never before—in all spheres of American life.

Lying is not part of Integrity. The first tenet of this timely and timeless virtue is adherence to the truth. The first question of Rotary International’s esteemed Four-Way Test reads “Is it the Truth?”

Harry Beckwith, considered one of the nation’s top authorities on marketing services, author of the acclaimed book, “Selling the Invisible,” tells his readers and clients “Tell the truth. Always tell the truth. For even when it hurts, it will help.” And I add, irrespective of whether one is under oath.

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Dr.Jack Kevorkian,”Dr.Death,”Did the Physician Have Integrity?

July 13th, 2011
Jim Thomas

Both he and the facts are a matter of record. As a medical pathologist in Michigan, he willfully assisted at least 130 patients, dozens of whom—though not all—were terminally ill, end their lives. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years. Beginning in 1999, he served eight years of the sentence before being paroled. He died June 3, 1911, age 83.

Whether you, the reader, believe in an ill or suffering person’s right to end his or her life is beside the point. What is relevant were Kevorkian’s beliefs on the highly controversial subject?

By the 1980s, he formulated and published them in a series of articles that appeared in the German journal Medicine and Law. He held it was his professional duty to end human suffering. It was his duty to assist those in hopeless agony, mental and physical; whose individual lives had lost all meaning. He denounced the idea that the humane way was to let people starve and thirst to death, claiming that was the position of the American Medical Association.

Declaring that it was his aim to find a solution to incurable agony, he flatly refused to deny or disclaim his written beliefs. Defying prosecutors, the courts, and public condemnation, he proceeded to assist those who sought his services. He said, “It is no crime to die.” His stand cost him eight years in prison.

Critics and supporters agree that Kevorkian’s stubborn advocacy for his position stimulated hospice care in the United States. It also brought out in the open public debate on a subject long considered taboo. In 1997 the State of Oregon enacted a law authorizing physicians to prescribe lethal medications for the terminally ill seeking to end their lives. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the statute constitutional.

Before answering the question posed, consider this: the cardinal virtue of integrity is the capacity to hold firmly to a set of principles, those that withstand scrutiny, that are beneficial to those directly concerned, even when it is difficult, inconvenient, or unprofitable to do so. Stated differently, integrity is the ability to stand by an idea.

So, how do you answer the question?