Tag Archives: ethics

What disqualifies a person from leadership? And, can they be restored?

toronto signNow that they’ve taken their lumps—what is the best medicine that could be prescribed for Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau?

What disqualifies a person from leadership? Can a fallen leader be restored?

It would seem this is the hot topic in Canada these days. The front pages of our two national newspapers, the National Post and the Globe & Mail, were completely taken up by a massive photo of Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford and stories about the mayor’s acknowledgement that he smoked crack cocaine while in a drunken stupor.

Of course, Rob Ford’s confession makes it obvious by his own acknowledgement that he told the public, his own family, and his closest political allies a pack of lies for a long time.

And then there is the case of the three Canadian Senators, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick duffy cartoonBrazeau, who were all suspended from the Canadian Senate for submitting falsified expense claims. As a direct consequence they have been tossed into seeming political oblivion. Their security passes, government credit cards, Blackberry phones were all immediately cut off and their personal office staff fired. The dishonesty of the three motivated the Senate to act swiftly in order to salvage something of that institution’s tattered reputation.

What disgrace! They are examples of leadership that failed the test. Sure, they disappointed many Canadians, although it must be said that there are many more people who cynically believe all politicians are corrupt, anywise, so what can you expect! Many today do take it for granted that our political wallin cartoonleaders are all crooks and liars. And, consequently, in a perverse sort of way we’re not too offended when we get what we expect. In fact I’ve heard that the popularity approval rating of Mayor Ford in the polls has risen since his dramatic confessions this week.

We all know that our leaders are subject to human frailties. But, really, is it beneficial to the wellbeing of our communities and our nation as a whole to set the bar of what we expect from our leaders so low? Do we really want our leaders “living down” to cynical expectations and so become self-fulfilling prophecies? I don’t think so.

In former times Canadians widely believed and would acknowledge that the Judeo-Christian scriptures set their expectations concerning their own personal behaviour as well as for those in leadership positions. That’s why the city of Toronto was formerly known as “Toronto the good” in years now long past. The bar of the public’s expectations concerning personal conduct was then set much higher.

rob ford foreheadIt is true that according to the teachings of the Bible, God DOES expect A LOT from both the leaders AND the led—from all those who pay Him lip service. Didn’t Rob Ford invoke God’s blessing on the people he’s supposed to be serving during one of his tumultuous press conferences this week?

Nevertheless, despite the blatant hypocrisy common to our secular 21st Century, many still expect senators playing cardsour leaders to carry out their service both faithfully and with dignity. Having the leader of Canada’s largest city confess before millions that he smoked crack while in a drunken stupor, while in the company of a bunch of druggies, is just plain embarrassing. We want our leaders whether in politics, sports, or business to at least put on a public veneer of a good example for our children even if we mostly do think they are all corrupt.

So, what’s the bottom line for our leaders with proven feet of clay? After falling so low, could and should Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau still be forgiven and restored to positions of leadership? Could they once again regain our full confidence? It all depends.

King David of ancient Israel, who was himself no stranger to some stupendous moral lapses during the course of his leadership, came to understand this issue thoroughly. He learned what good leadership requires. His dying words are still relevant. David put his epitaph this way:

The Lord’s Spirit spoke through me,
and his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke;
the Rock of Israel said to me: “Whoever rules ·fairly [justly; righteously] over people,
who rules ·with respect for God, is like the morning light at ·dawn,
like a morning without clouds.
He is like sunshine after a rain
that makes the grass ·of the earth sparkle and gleam”….

But all ·evil [worthless; godless] people [both leaders and the led] will be thrown away like thorns that cannot be held in a hand. No one can touch them
 except with a tool of iron or wood.  They will be ·thrown in [consumed by] the fire and burned where they lie (2 Samuel 23:2-4, 6-7 Expanded Version).

Such consequences are indeed far worse than mere public embarrassment and humiliation. Remember, vengeance ONLY belongs to God—something the Toronto city council and the Conservative Party of Canada would do well to remember.

So can such fallen leaders be restored? While public apologies are a good start, more is needed. A real leader like King Dave, for example, is one who learns from his or her mistakes, genuinely repents from the heart of what is morally and ethically wrong and then initiates thorough change in their personal behaviour—and so turns from black to white, death to life, political oblivion to productive leadership, spiritually speaking.  That’s how King David responded to one of the most famous moral lapses of all time when he failed to fulfill his leadership duties before God, his family and the whole nation. You can read about his “news conference,” tears and confessions in Psalm 51.

Perhaps it would be encouraging—or maybe just plain shocking—to realize that even if Rob Ford, Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau had committed both murder and adultery in the course of their duties, they could be forgiven by no less than God Himself and restored to their positions of leadership—if, and only if they would humbly, totally, and sincerely acknowledge their faults, repent of them all, and then completely change their corrupt behaviour. After all, we all have had feet of clay at one time or another during the course of our years. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life.

Biblical repentance  means not just saying you’re sorry, but effecting a complete transformation of one’s attitudes and behaviour in those areas in which one committed a sin: i.e. smoking crack cocaine, abusing alcohol, lying, cheating on one’s expenses, threatening others, etc, etc.

Much has changed in the last 3,000 years since the days of King David. But it would appear that human nature is not one of them! Consequently, godly repentance is still the best medicine for the moral and ethical sicknesses that will periodically afflict our souls and the souls of our leaders.

 

Cheators only cheat themselves


Cheating made the news this week. The fact that it still shocks us (at least somewhat) is an encouraging sign for our society because it indicates that we, the people, still understand that there is something called “right” and “wrong.”

Here in British Columbia two young men recently made the top of the news with a complex, high-tech scheme to cheat a MCAT medical school entrance exam held at the University of Victoria. The cheators used a pinhole camera and a miniaturized radio transmitter/receiver to send the test questions to a remote location at which a couple of unsuspecting University of British Columbia med school students, who thought they were being recruited for a job as a med school tutor, would give the answers. The correct answers were then relayed back to the cheating MCAT test-taker.

Of course, the fact that many students cheat in university or high school is not news. These days most English instructors, habitually, conduct Google key word searches on student-submitted essays to weed out the laziest cheats.

While a cheat who is discovered in high school usually earns only a lecture and a zero grade on the cheated assignment, a university-level cheat can actually have his or her academic career terminated. However, cheating in an educational setting almost never results in criminal charges leading to jail time and/or a fine.

So it made the news when the Province of British Columbia filed criminal charges for committing a fraud over $5,000 against MCAT cheats Housman Rezazadeh-Azarfor and J. Miguel Ruben. After all, a compromised MCAT med school entrance exam can no longer be used. Creating a replacement test costs about $200,000 to $400,000. Obviously cheating is not a crime without a cost. Besides, the very idea of allowing unqualified MCAT cheats to eventually become licensed medical doctors to whom we might in the future turn to for help with some sort of disease or medical emergency still gives most of us the willies, including our police and crown prosecutors.

Yes, the fact that incidents of cheating still have the capacity to arouse public indignation means that there’s still hope for us. And that’s why I continue to write!

At the WorldTomorrow.Ca we seek to shine the light of bibilically-based ethics and morality on what goes on in our society. We seek to persuade or to reaffirm to our readers that in the long run, a happy, productive, and successful life can only be found by actively pursuing and living the truth with integrity.

So, just what is the truth? And what role should the truth play in our lives? Jesus of Nazareth said:

17Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours (John 17:17 Contemporary English Version).

Older Bible translations say that this truth “sanctifies” us or makes us “holy.” These are words most 21st Century people don’t understand. A person who is sanctified or made holy to God is one who is set apart or devoted to God’s service. Believing and living God’s truth are the essential requirements for anyone who desires a never-ending life that will be overflowing with happiness, joy, and peace of mind.

Isn’t this what true success in life is all about? Stuff and status in the present world are meaningless in the big picture of the universe’s reality. There is a great deal of irony in the fact that cheators think cheating and fraudulent behaviour will open to them the doors to life’s real success. Consider this story told by Jesus about a cheat:

1-2Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a powerful CEO who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.’
3-4″The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’
5″Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his CEO’s agricultural commodities company. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my boss?’
6″He replied, ‘A hundred truckloads of olive oil.’
“The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now— write fifty.’
7″To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’
“He answered, ‘A hundred train cars of wheat.’
“He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’
8-9″Now here’s a surprise: The CEO praised the cheat! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials [on God’s priorities], so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on clever cheats.”

10-13Jesus went on to make these comments:

If you’re honest in small things,
you’ll be honest in big things;
If you cheat in small things,
you’ll be a cheat in big things.
If you’re not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?
No worker can serve two bosses:
He’ll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can’t serve both God and Selfish Materialism (Luke 16:1-13, mostly The Message translation, italicized portions by me).

Cheating, fraud, deception—sad to say—have become all too commonplace in our “progressive” society of the 21st Century. While our standards of ethical behaviour are truly and progressively degenerating, don’t you get caught up in this slide to self-destruction. Remember, cheats only cheat themselves out of what is the enduring best in life.

How our B.C. government and others profit from B.C. Bud

Greed is such a simple motive. It’s been said for some time now that B.C. Bud, the illegal pot-growing industry of British Columbia, produces more economic activity than either of our major traditional but declining natural resource industries,  forestry and fishing.

While our provincial government has been ostensibly waging an official “War on Drugs” to suppress the seemingly irrepressible marijuana grow-ops, on the other hand, our elected politicians and crown corporations have been–in an ad hoc fashion–quietly supporting and handsomely profiting from the illegal drug trade.

Shocked? You should be! But let me clarify. I’m not really talking about envelopes stuffed with cash slipped from hand to hand under the table. Direct bribery is, after all, so socially distasteful. Though certainly, it does happen probably more often than comes to light because since ancient times…

The wicked take secret bribes to pervert the course of justice (Proverbs 17:23 New Living Translation).

But the taking of such straight-forward bribes isn’t the point of this commentary.  Then again, maybe it is? What I’m writing about is how our B.C. government subtly assists the B.C. Bud growers and other criminals with their money laundering needs–for a healthy cut off the top, of course.

Our government-run gambling rackets and government-regulated private casinos in this province allow organized as well as disorganized criminals to launder incredible amounts of illegally generated profits through these officially blessed gambling entities in order to get out on the other side “clean” money. For example, buy $9,999 or more of casino chips with cash from the latest drug deal. Play some Black Jack, make a few safe bets, and then cash out with a casino cheque. Voilà, money laundering 101! The now “clean” money can be legitimately deposited into the criminal’s bank accounts. Then those living from the proceeds of crime can shop till they drop and, hopefully, pay lots of HST sales tax for another cut to the government from their ill-gotten gains. There’s real financial logic to this moral turpitude.

For years B.C. gambling was a neat, profitable, and quiet arrangement benefiting government, criminals—and even many NGOs! The B.C. government in a cunning sleight of hand bought off criticism for years with generous grants to charities and non-profits that were derived directly from B.C. gambling revenues. By throwing around a portion of their take they were able to effect a P.R. miracle transforming parasitical gambling exactions worthy of the Sheriff of Nottingham into socially acceptable “gaming” that partially benefits the community. The only losers were those victimized and exploited by B.C.’s criminals as well as the collateral community damage inflicted on the gambling-addicted who can’t stop themselves from betting their family’s rent and grocery money.

But this week, however, brought a bit of trouble to this profitable quiet conspiracy of the ethically challenged. The Canadian Fed’s Finanacial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC), which requires casinos and financial institutions to report cash transactions over $10,000, fined the B.C. Lottery corporation (a provincially owned crown corporation) $670,000 for failing to comply with federal laws aimed at stopping criminal and terrorism-related money laundering. FINTRAC found that the B.C. gambling racket had made 1,020 infractions of the law, and repeatedly failed to introduce a program to reduce the risk of money laundering.

To minimize the fallout from such negative publicity, the affected B.C. gambling entity’s talking head claimed it was just an “administrative fine” due to computer errors that caused late filing, etc.  However, FINTRAC said the fines were levied for a “persistent, chronic failure to comply with the law.” This failure to follow the law has lasted for years according to FINTRAC.

The Prophet Jeremiah looking forward to our days and the low spiritual state of our time described the lack of morals and honesty at all levels of our society. Jeremiah also predicted the outcome of such a corrupt society. Consider the prophet’s words. Do they describe us?

13-15″Everyone’s after the dishonest dollar, little people and big people alike. Prophets and priests and everyone in between twist words and doctor truth.
 My people are broken—shattered!—and they put on Band-Aids,
saying, ‘It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.’ But things are not ‘just fine’! Do you suppose they are embarrassed over this outrage?
No, they have no shame. They don’t even know how to blush. There’s no hope for them. They’ve hit bottom and there’s no getting up.
 As far as I’m concerned, they’re finished.” God has spoken (Jeremiah 6:13-15, The Message translation).