Which is more important – loyalty or integrity?

Standing resolutely against the tide of a morally bankrupt secular culture!

I recently read a thought-provoking 491-page book titled ‘How Now Shall We Live?’ by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey. The late Charles Colson, some of you may well remember, is a former presidential aide to Richard Nixon. He was also the founder of the international ministry, Prison Fellowship.

Seduced by the Power and the Trappings

Charles Colson’s rise to fame and notoriety, in equal measure, is partly because he was known within the Nixon administration as an ‘evil genius’. His designation in the White House was special counsel to the president where he wielded enormous influence.

It was Nixon, after all, who persuaded him to give up his lucrative law practice to serve as his special counsel. He also gladly accepted a much lower salary in exchange for the privilege, the power, the glory and the trappings of serving at the White House.

Walk Over My Own Grandmother

Colson was extremely committed to the re-election of President Richard Nixon and is on record for a distasteful statement wherein he said that he ‘would walk over my own grandmother’ in order to ensure the re-election of Richard Nixon.

This was such a thoughtless and wholly misplaced act of loyalty. It also reflected the kind of irrational decision some individuals make because they think that they are all powerful and untouchable!

Mr Colson, said the master sergeant, which is more important:  loyalty or integrity?

His dramatic fall from the pinnacle of power and prestige was quick, painful and sobering. Colson served seven months in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in the Watergate-related Daniel Ellsberg case.

When One Does Not Have Scruples

As a political strategist, he was clearly a brilliant one.

But when you do not have the right values and scruples to match, there is always a price to pay… sooner or later!  This dramatic change in his status, fortune and circumstances gave him ample opportunity to seriously reflect on his life thus far and on some of the poor choices he had made.

After pondering deeply and sincerely, he readily acknowledged that he had been wrong in some of his actions.  That ultimately led to his conversion and he, thereafter, became a Christian.

Lecture on Ethics to 2000 Marine Officers

Colson was invited to give a lecture on ethics to 2000 Marine officers and non-commissioned officers in a North Carolina army camp some years ago. One of the toughest questions on that day, after his lecture and during question time, came from a master sergeant.

Mr Colson, said the master sergeant, which is more important:  loyalty or integrity?

Colson faced a huge dilemma. Marines in the US live by the creed: ‘ Semper Fidelis ‘ which means being ‘always faithful ‘. He was also a former marine and he knew that loyalty meant unquestioning obedience. He reflected wryly that had he pondered deeply on the master

Marines in the US live by the creed: ‘ Semper Fidelis ‘ which means being ‘always faithful’. He was also a former marine and he knew that loyalty meant unquestioning obedience. He reflected wryly that had he pondered deeply on the master sergeant’s question when he was in the Nixon White House, he would have acted differently. Too bad that such is the beauty of hindsight!

Integrity comes first, he said.  Colson then added that loyalty, no matter how admirable, can be dangerous if it is invested in an unworthy cause. There are also many individuals who have recklessly and foolishly put their trust and loyalty in a number of false prophets, charlatans and so called leaders! There are a few well-known cases both in the corporate and political worlds that also come to mind.

Integrity comes from the verb to integrate. This means to become united so as to form a complete or perfect whole. It follows, therefore, that our actions must be consistent and in line with our thoughts, our principles and our values.

We should summon, with all our might and decency, the courage, the will and the determination to face the challenge of standing against the tide of a morally repugnant secular culture.

Weaving a Web of Deceit

We must not act or behave as though we have taken leave of our senses on some occasions because it is convenient to do so or because it suits us. Yet at other times, we seem to be in control of our faculties. Black will always be black, and however much you wish to change the colour, thinking individuals will not believe you when you claim that black is actually white!

Once you lie and then choose to weave a web of deceit or even tell half truths on a regular basis, you lose all credibility. Nobody is going to believe you from then on except perhaps the village idiot!

Morally Repugnant Secular Culture

We should summon, with all our might and decency, the courage, the will and the determination to face the challenge of standing against the tide of a morally repugnant secular culture. This is especially so when many others, who should know better, chose to cave in meekly because they have been seduced beyond redemption by the trappings of power and ill- gotten wealth.

It is wise, when faced with this dilemma, to rely on our values, if we have any worth adhering to. Do always listen carefully to our inner voice and promptings i.e. conscience!  Universal moral laws should serve as our guide.

As clear-headed and thinking individuals, it is up to us to decide between right and wrong. Individuals can always, of course, engage in debate about the boundaries of a moral law and its applications. Moral laws, however, are timeless and do matter.

Basic Rules of Morality Still Apply

In the end, however, we should be governed by the basic rules of morality. We should not wait like Charles Colson for something drastic to happen before we really start thinking seriously about the issue(s) concerned. At that time, however, it may be a little too late.

We should consciously aim for the higher things in life… things that challenge our mind, strengthen our character and foster a love for the overall greater good of society. I stress that despite what we see and witness happening around us with increasing frequency these days, there is still great room and need for embedding traditional moral values of honesty, courage, sacrifice and the like.

Some people, however, when faced with such hard choices choose to feign ignorance. Others choose to have a case of selective amnesia. Many other weak willed individuals believe it is better to opt for the easy and more convenient choice. After all, they reason quite naively, many others are also doing so.  This is their simple and silly justification.

Under these circumstances, they believe it is better to just go along like a flock of sheep and in the process jettison, without qualms, their values and their principles for ‘30 pieces of silver’!  These days, however, the rewards for such delusional and unworthy behaviour are much more that those measly pieces of silver.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Which is more important – loyalty or integrity?

  1. Ben, I commend you for posting such a valuable & thought provoking article on a subject which at this point in time seems appropriate & spot on !
    Truly our nation, it’s people & those in high office must be sincere & brave to search their inner selves to question Are We Being Honest To Ourselves & To Our Society ?
    Whatever actions we make today we all know that one day we must be answerable to our Maker for the deeds/ misdeeds we have done.

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