I absolutely loathe the Presidential election cycle. As we have careened through the presidential elections over the span of my lifetime, they have become a downhill slope into a pit of vitriol negativity, bombastic arrogance and blatant dishonesty. Promoting policies and ideas has been supplanted by trashing one’s opponent. The harder a candidate tries to take the high ground, the more they are assaulted with brutal character attacks, mudslinging and maligning.
The last few election cycles seem to have improved a little, then came 2016. It is astounding to me that we have a presidential contender who has built an entire campaign on fear-mongering, hate, lying, bullying, character assassination and divisiveness. Intelligent policy discussion is nonexistent. What’s more alarming, is that there are millions of Americans who are marching lockstep in support. You don’t have to go too far back in history to remember a similar person deceiving and manipulating the masses; and the consequences were diabolic!
What is occurring right now in the American political arena is a Righteous Indictment, declaring, “AMERICA YOU HAVE LOST YOUR VIRTUE!”
In my early years as a Probation Administrator, I had the opportunity to attend a training seminar on virtue-based education presented by a presiding Juvenile Court Judge. The training was interesting, refreshing and challenging. At this time, there was scientific research which clearly showed a decrease in negative school behaviors and juvenile delinquency when children were routinely exposed to virtue-based education. There was a time in our country’s history when it was expected that parents would be teaching virtuous living, and people valued being considered virtuous. I’m afraid that those days are behind us; we need them to return.
Virtue is simply the quality of being morally good, behaving oneself at the highest level of integrity. If our culture is to survive, we must diligently work to re-infuse virtue into our personal and national character. Think how different the election would be this year if a dominant, controlling factor would be the exercise of virtue. Here are just some of the dozens of accepted virtues:
- Acceptance--the act of accepting something or someone
- Caring--feeling or showing concern for other people
- Compassion--sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it
- Consideration--the act of thinking carefully about something you will make a decision or comment about
- Dignity--a way of appearing or behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control
- Encouragement--something that makes someone more determined, hopeful or confident
- Ethical--following accepted rules of behavior; morally right and good
- Fairness--treating people in a way that does not favor some over others
- Forgiveness--the act of forgiving someone or something
- Generosity--the quality of being kind, understanding and not selfish; the quality of being generous
- Graciousness--very polite in a way that shows respect
- Honesty--the quality of being fair and truthful in all matters
- Humility--the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people
- Idealism--the attitude of a person who believes that it is possible to live according to very high standards of behavior and honesty
- Integrity--the quality of being honest and fair, and taking the high road in every situation
- Modesty--the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities
- Respect--an act of giving particular attention, showing dignity and reverence
- Self-discipline--correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement
- Tolerance--sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own
- Truthfulness--telling or disposed to always tell the truth
Seriously, during this election cycle, when have any of these Virtues been extolled?
For all my adult life, I have lived out my Christian faith the best I can, and it is a primary driver for my actions. Unfortunately, I am disappointed and confused by the loud voice of the Christian Community in support of someone whose life has been anything but Virtuous. Christians are called to be the “Light of the World…”; “Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify God!” What is this light? VIRTUE! It means caring for the poor, orphan and widow; it is serving and being kind, tolerant and forgiving; it means being honest, hopeful and above all things loving. The Church appears to have abandoned its role of being a herald of “good news”, instead yielding to fear and political deception, and becoming a gang of finger pointers ready to cast the first stone at anyone who does not conform! We are not to tolerate evil, yet there are many among us who are now promoting it.
It is imperative that we put partisan, selfish differences aside and pursue Virtue with great speed. Virtue is the fabric which holds a diverse society together. All have vices and self-interest, but virtue transcends selfish ambition for the maintenance of our common good. As Leonardo da Vinci simply stated, “He who sows virtue reaps Honor.” Let us sow Virtue. Otherwise, I fear the worst!