An unarmed 34-year-old woman with a history of post-partum depression drives to Washington, D.C. from Stamford, Connecticut this past week with her 18-month-old daughter, allegedly hits a police checkpoint barrier with her car, freaks out, accelerates to get away, is chased by the cops, stopped by them and then is shot and killed. The next day Congress gave the D.C. cops a standing ovation. Really? Has the threshold for the use of deadly force been lowered to mothers freaking out in their car? Or was this an act of domination meant to have a chilling effect on future and potential “terrorists?”
Watch the evening news, read a newspaper, view the news online or study a history book and you will find different stories of a similar theme; governments continue to control, torture, dominate, hurt and kill their own. From ancient times to today, governments have been known to end up defaulting to the singular mission of doing whatever they must to serve and preserve their exclusive right to power. As Plato once said, “Democracy passes into despotism.”
What’s more, the masses tend to clamor for and vote for the politicians who thereafter act with impunity outside of written law. It is a two-headed monster of power brokers and the people who unwittingly support them; a monster that returns to society generation after generation with the only difference being the names of the politicians, the names of the people who elect them, the time-frame they live in and the technology and fashion of their time-period.
However, those at the top of the power pyramid do not have an exclusive on predatory behavior. In light of the quality and kindness of millions of people we all know, the number of those who prey on others seems to be on the rise. From the political oligarchs already mentioned to the probable junkie who cut the cord to my electric barbecue for the copper and to the CEOs who receive obscene salaries no one human could ever “earn,” it’s all the same issue, no integrity.
The question becomes, what exactly is integrity? American Heritage Dictionary defines it as: “Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.”
Yet more than ever before, behaving with a “steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code” is as outdated as a Model-T Ford, stay-at-home moms and homemade apple pie. In the modern world of diversity and a relativistic morality of right and wrong, everything seems to have gone horribly off track (including, most importantly, ourselves). A proliferation of the diversity of personal belief systems and subsequent behaviors has become the cultural norm. As modern man and woman, we do what we want when we want to achieve what we believe is in our own best interest regardless of how it impacts anyone else.
Historically and consistently, we humans have thrown caution to the wind in an attempt to better our own lot. From lying to the boss at work to cheating on one’s spouse, we live in a time when deceit and lying exist as basic strategies for survival that far exceed everyday integrity and truth telling. This cover-your-butt reality is well understood but no one dares mention it except in hushed tones. Justified nowadays by the accurate observation that, “everyone’s doing it” so it must be okay, this societal malaise is of almost universal proportion.
The solution to this conundrum is as incredibly obvious as it is thought mysterious. If to break the cycle of the acceleration of what I consider societal insanity, we have to look no further than in the mirror back at ourselves.
Flashback to 1983, Buckminster Fuller, age 86, lay in the post-surgery twilight of a hospital recovery room after hip-replacement surgery. Formerly the subject of the cover of the 1964 TIME magazine, he found himself reveling in a new insight; despite his acclaimed accomplishments to create a world that worked for everyone, he realized only personal integrity was going to count.
Called “the Leonardo da Vinci of our times” “Bucky” had “been there and done that” in his career dedicated to bettering humanity. Among many more accomplishments, he was the inventor of the geodesic dome, coined the term, “Spaceship Earth” created a dymaxian map, a futuristic dymaxian car, a world planning mapping process called the World Game and was the author of several books.
After his profound post-surgery realization, Bucky asked his grandson, Jaime Snyder, to design and produce a series of events throughout America called Integrity Days. I had the privilege of co-producing the last of this series in the Bay Area, April 30, 1983. He spoke at each event on the capacity of the “little” individual and the power of personal integrity if to make a real difference for people and the world. Sadly, in less than three months from his last Integrity Day, he passed from this earth July 1, 1983.
I have to say, I think that we are in some kind of final examination as to whether human beings now, with this capability to acquire information and to communicate, whether we’re really qualified to take on the responsibility we’re designed to be entrusted with. And this is not a matter of an examination of the types of governments, nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with economic systems. It has to do with the individual. Does the individual have the courage to really go along with the truth? ~Buckminster Fuller, Integrity Day, 1983
I learned a lot from Bucky and whole-heartedly agree that “only integrity is going to count.” Without it and for example, by building alternative systems of government in response to centralized, dominating and controlling ones, nothing will really change. Like a castle built in sand, the ocean of lust for personal power will eventually reclaim intelligent structures to serve its self-interest.
Human history provides more evidence of this usurpation of good intentions than most people ever want to know about. The Constitution of 1787 being a powerful, recent example of how the best laid plans can end up going off the rails. When evaluating honestly the purpose of U.S Government today, we see the original intent of governance of by and for the people has been replaced by a U.S. Government that protects and preserves its own self-interests. As such, this self-serving mode of operation increasingly trickles down, copied by the people it governs.
When, one by one, we each take a good, hard look in the mirror to acknowledge our own shortcomings of integrity, find a way to “repent,” and commit to do much, much better, things can change for the better. In the final analysis, integrity as the “steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code” must become our top decision-making criteria, above profit and/or personal gain. Otherwise, I expect that the world we will get will simply be a more, different and better version of what we already have.
Susan Boskey, freelance researcher and writer, is author of the book, The Quality Life Plan®: 7 Steps to Uncommon Financial Security http://www.alternativefinancialnow.com/ and more recently helped bring to market the book, Beyond the National Myth: waking up in the land of the free http://www.nationalmyth.org/