This political season had its full share of outright lies, evasions, rewritten history and underhanded maneuvers. The results of the election left some jubilant and others distraught, but most felt a sense of relief that the bombardment of propaganda had finally ended. I think that we all have an inner thirst for truth and sincerity, and they’ve been scarce commodities during the last 18 months.
Quakers don’t have a creed, but they do have a set of testimonies. The testimonies are time tested guidelines that, if followed, help a spiritual pilgrim make his/her way on a path toward communion with God. One of the testimonies deals with personal integrity. Good Quakers tell the truth simply, lead lives that involve no secrecy, and attempt to treat everyone they meet with open good will. The benefit of living this way is an easy mind that carries no unnecessary burdens. A person blessed with a straight forward life has nothing to hide, no lies to remember and no dubious schemes to promote and defend.
I don’t claim to be a good Quaker, but this testimony rings true for me. Both sides of my family came from German peasant stock. The truth was delivered directly, bluntly when I was a child. The words and punishment often had a harsh edge, but I knew that at the heart of things my parents and grandparents wanted me to have character and integrity. I’m concerned that these values no longer are accorded much honor. Success at any cost and by any means appears to be the accepted goal these days.
But I’m not going to point fingers at certain parties who turned the election into farce for two reasons: 1. I’m not perfect; 2. my personal outrage has little influence. Instead I’m going to rely on my wife’s advice. She tells me that when she’s upset by bad behavior she examines her own record. She tries to recognize times when she has been guilty of similar acts of bad faith and vows to never engage in such behavior again.
I told my kids when they were little to help me bail water from incoming waves back into the ocean. When they got older they realized that this was a joke, a comic exercise in futility. Striving to maintain a straight forward, honest life in the face of this rising tide of Machiavellian scheming and shameless deceit may also be a pointless gesture. But I tell myself to hold tight to a high standard of integrity, and I believe that every time I do so I commit an act of true defiance against this advancing reign of error.