Chapter One

Integrity

 

I grew up in deep poverty in the city of St. Louis. In the first

grade, my mother typically sent me to school with a cold

fried egg sandwich, or something even less appetizing, in a

crumpled, grease-stained lunch bag that we reused. I’d sit

with the other kids at noon on a bench against the wall in the

gymnasium, watching them eat their lunchmeat sandwiches,

potato chips, Twinkies, and fruit while I hoped they did not

notice my meager meal.

           

      One day I decided to steal another kid’s lunch. I was

delighted to find chips, a snack cake, and a well-made

sandwich lovingly cut in half diagonally. I tried to enjoy my

meal as I looked about nervously to see if anyone had a clue

of my crime.

 

       Not long after, I did it again. But this time I looked

up from my stolen food to see the teacher walking along

the benches with the robbery victim, scanning each child’s

lunch to see if the boy could spot the meal his mother had

packed. For me, a lifetime passed as they walked slowly by

me, looking at my food without comment.

           

       At the age of six, I knew it was wrong to take another kid’s

lunch, even if I was poor and hungry. As I looked around the

gymnasium after the teacher had passed, the room was no

longer filled with my playmates. They were now children

whose values I had betrayed, who might find out what I had

done. I felt like a lost soul.

 

       I never stole a lunch again.

 

1. Tell the truth.

 

“Accordingly, we will: Conduct ourselves in the

highest ethical manner in all relationships with

peers, superiors and subordinates; Be honest and

truthful in our dealings with each other, and with

those outside the Navy.”

Core Values of the United States Navy

 

       In reviewing men’s codes of conduct throughout history,

the one rule most of them have in common is to tell the truth.

Telling the truth can require more courage than taking

a beating or even taking a bullet. In fact, many a man has

committed suicide because he was not brave enough to face

people with the truth.

 

       Honesty is the building block of human relations. Without

it, all else crumbles.

 

       Bosses depend upon employees to tell them facts so

they know what is going on in a business.

           

       Wives need correct information from their husbands on

all kinds of matters: How much did you make this week?

When are you coming home? Where are you? Are you

picking up the kids?

 

       Girlfriends need certainty in a relationship and that

starts with a man telling the truth to those many questions:

Will you call me tomorrow? Where were you last night? Are

you dating anyone else?

 

       Men who lie or tell half-truths are looked down upon by

other men. And they are disliked by most women. One lie

can ruin a relationship for years or even forever.

 

       Men who tell the truth are prized, especially if they

always tell the truth. That’s the person you can truly have

confidence in. That’s the person who will give you a straight

answer, even if it makes him look bad.

 

       A liar puts others at risk. He gives them false information

to operate on. He wastes their time as they end up having

to track down the true data. He betrays their trust in him.

 

       Lying is, in fact, an act of cowardice. People do it because

they are afraid to face the consequences of telling the truth.

 

       Sometimes telling the truth hurts you because you

have to admit a wrongdoing or a mistake. You could have

to take the blame and it could cost you money or time to

fix the mess you made if you say what really happened—for

example, in a car accident. An honest man has the courage to tell the truth anyway. He knows that by being honest he

makes the world a better place. He knows that lying will

create bitterness and upset in other people who would no

longer trust him. He also knows that honest behavior sets

an example to the people he is involved with so, hopefully,

they, too, will be inspired to tell the truth.

          

        Many people say they want peace in their lives or a

peaceful world. Peace starts with telling the truth. There is

no peace amongst liars because they don’t trust each other...