Honesty and integrity, two compass points of good character, seem to be in small supply lately. The joy of recent Olympic victories was tainted by stories of performance enhancing drug use. Earlier in the year, headlines reported the unethical business practice of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal. Our faith in man’s moral compass takes a beating!
The New York Times invited experts to comment on whether “the pervasiveness of cheating” has made moral behaviour passé. Considering the damage to companies’ reputations (and negative hits to profits) and the banning from competition of athletes that tested positive for drugs, their conclusion was that the risk is not worth taking.
However, the insistent noise of the world suggests that “everybody does it” or “it’s OK if you don’t get caught”! With acute insight, Christian author Mary Baker Eddy penned: “Fear of punishment never made man truly honest.” And C.S. Lewis was spot on when he concurred: “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one else is looking!”
Does the moral compass waver according to consensus–degrees of deception that are acceptable–or is there moral bedrock underlying life, which we would benefit to heed?
Listening to what one could call the “inner voice of Truth [God]” proved positive in the experience of a graduate student in economics who had to present her paper to a jury. Hanging in the balance was a prestigious university job. So when she discovered some fundamental errors in her research, she was tempted to gloss over them, thinking the jurors would not notice.
As she reasoned about what to do, she realized it wasn’t enough to express honesty in some situations, but not in others. Through her study of the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, she was learning to see herself as the very expression of Truth, and to understand that harmony, health, and all good come from learning to live consistently from this basis. With that, she disclosed the faulty research to the jurors, which became a major point of discussion. Not only was she awarded the position, but also she achieved the highest mark possible.
Truth is written into the very fabric of our being. Considering this fact can impel us to more align our lives with its laws. This enables us all, as did this student, to reject temptations like dishonesty, pride, hatred and fear, and follow the inner voice of Truth [God] as avowed by the Psalmist: “As for me I will walk in my integrity.”
Over the centuries, moral conditions stemming from this basis — illustrated, illumined and detailed in the Bible — have blessed and continue to bless and heal countless numbers. The fact that each one of us is inseparable from and can be guided by Truth — felt in deep moments of honest prayer and self-reflection – stands as a true north, and naturally leads to decisions based in honesty, goodness and love for our fellow man.
Moral achievements enrich not only our life and health, but also the lives of those around us. Where the world’s honours ultimately fade into emptiness – like dishonesty tarnishing either Olympic gold or a brand’s shining name – spiritual achievements blossom into a more satisfying sense of success and lasting self-worth.
We can trust in the promise of the prophet, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa. 30:12)
This article can be read in Metroland Media news sites such as Durham News.