Julio C. Rivas, CS
It is common to read about the moral failures of people in positions of influence and power. Since 2007 we have been inundated with news reports of widespread corruption throughout our social/economic institutions -- religious, educational, financial and government organizations. One obvious example is the many large, high-powered financial institutions which have been found guilty and have agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines for ethical failures.
In spite of the commendable effort given to legislating and enforcing proper codes of conduct, it is helpful to remember that ethical behavior depends mostly on individuals doing what is right.
What is most important is developing within us the moral sensitivity, judgment and courage which annuls temptation and illuminates complex situations. It means nurturing a sense of right and wrong, and committing ourselves to living it even in the minutiae of our lives. Then we are able to be a counterforce against the tides of corruption. We may even be able to contribute to breaking an organization's long-held pattern of dubious practices.
When thinking of ethics I also recall the deceptions and cover-ups I sometimes encountered in business. Once, my team was offered juicy financial compensation to help deceive the financiers of a multi-million dollar project. We refused, of course. Other legitimate opportunities came our way.
Our personal commitment to integrity enhances the quality of life for everyone. It infuses families, institutions, government and commerce with trust, efficiency and higher levels of achievement.
Our standard of trustworthy behavior should kick into higher gear when ethical laws are out of reach. We cannot legislate morality. The best such laws can do is provide and enforce guidelines. Of course, this is most important for society’s progress. But individual responsibility to what is honorable and right is more reliable.
Even the Ten Commandments, if seen merely as a restrictive list of religious "don'ts," will have minor impact on personal behavior. But when we learn to view them, along with Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, as a kind of "spiritual rudder" to guide and protect our lives, then they become inscribed into our hearts and minds. We learn to appreciate them as expressions of divine intelligence and power.
Love-God supplies man's every need and does so abundantly. It is ignorance about Love's irrepressible goodness that leads us to consider taking dubious action. Any temporary benefit derived from unethical practices is delusive. Wrongful means eventually bring forth their own downfall and punishment. Lasting prosperity can only come from Love’s intelligent direction.
Truth-God is man's divine enhancer and his source of righteousness. It is Principle-Truth who gives us the ability to do right. As we move in rhythm with divine Principle, materialistic desires and wants are swept away by integrity, generosity and prosperity. Spiritual acuity opens up new ways of doing things that reap marvelous results for us and for everyone. We are often surprised at the rich bounty that appears.
What about dealing effectively with all the ethical "gray" areas? Through communion with Mind we hone our spiritual “radar” and it enhances the quality of our judgments. Situations which previously would have seemed complex and ethically unclear are illuminated by spiritual intelligence.
In addition to making us faithful to honor and duty, Christly intuition helps us avoid even the appearance of impropriety. To be entrusted with the confidence of others, as most of us are at some time or another, is a privilege. It demands a high degree of personal discretion. A spiritually-honed mind makes insightful assessments and decisions that raise others’ trust in us.
While it is important to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:22), we need not fear what cynicism and self-righteousness may lead others to think. The divine Principle that we obey is also the divine Truth that disproves and disables false accusations. Our integrity may be questioned or challenged, but as an expression of Truth, it will be victorious.
Mary Baker Eddy, a brilliant theologian, once wrote, "The man of integrity is one who makes it his constant rule to follow the road of duty, according as Truth and the voice of his conscience point it out to him. ... The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the same,--at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen" (Miscellaneous Writings 147:14-16, 19-24).
We can draw hope and inspiration from knowing that we are not alone in our efforts to live with integrity. There are millions who are striving to live the same way. We constitute a victorious army of Truth.
Mind’s divine laws undergird and advance our ethics and prosperity.