Respect. Honesty. Tolerance. These are the building blocks of integrity.
And somewhere along the way, a large portion of this country has lost sight of its integrity, and that makes me sad.
Even sadder is that our moral meltdown is playing out on the public stage of Facebook and Twitter in ever uglier ways.
I’d love to think — I want to believe — that teenagers who make racist remarks about our President on Twitter and young women who post disrespectful photos taken at our National Cemetery on Facebook just aren’t thinking clearly about the ramifications of their stupid and offensive actions. And of course, they are not, and on some level, we need to forgive them their youthful stupidity and move on. Maybe they are racist. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe they have no respect for our veterans. Maybe they do. At the moment, they are simply the latest icons for the pervasiveness of social media, and a timely reminder that once it is online, it’s out there forever. No do-overs.
But the sad sad reality is that their flagrant disrespect is simply reflective of what they see around them.
When a candidate for president can dismiss half the population as ne’er do wells …
When candidates for national office think it’s okay to redefine rape …
When conservative commentators think it’s okay to call the President a “retard” and then compound the nastiness to say it just means “loser” …
I think it is pretty clear — when it comes to integrity, we’ve lost the plot. How can we really be that surprised when our youth behaves so badly when so many putative role models clearly have ZERO respect and tolerance for others? Quite frankly, I think they lie too, but that’s not my main point here.
There’s some good news — respect and tolerance prevailed on November 6th. I am most definitely giving thanks that “That Happened:”
But we cannot be complacent in our lingering election euphoria. I fear that the ugliness is still simmering under the current veneer of cooperation and retrenchment on the right.
So, while I am thankful that women will still retain their reproductive rights in this country, and that more and more of our citizens are free to marry whomever they choose (although I never plan to do THAT again personally), and that the middle class won’t get totally squeezed as the 1% gets another tax cut, and that math prevailed over mumbo jumbo, and that there are outstanding young men like John Franklin Stephens, I am also thinking long and hard about integrity today.
And what we as a nation need to do to get it back.