Challenges to honesty PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 20 April 2014 13:31



In  one session of a Lenten recollection I joined this past week a participant came in a T-shirt with the wordings of that challenging exhortation to honesty:

“Be honest.  Even if others are not.  Even if others will not.  Even if others cannot.”

Reflecting on the words I came to realize in a deeper way the difficulty of remaining honest  in a society where honesty  may be the greatest challenge to one’s integrity.

In the past several months the media have focused on a number of scandals  that involved honesty with public funds. Chief of this is the PDAF scam involving billions of pesos.  There have been other scams which dealt   with just as huge sums of money. Honesty of course doesn’t just deal with money and not just public money either, but let us limit for now our conversation on honesty with public funds.

In a short session during this recollection a former student under my direction many years ago came to me and shared  her experience  in a government office as this experience dealt with the suffering she underwent. Suffering was one of the topics in the recollection.  It seems that she was made to suffer because her stand as the office accountant was such that she  stepped  on the toes of those in the office who were not honest.  Because she stood on her principles  she locked horns with  those who would not be honest. And these  dishonest ones made her suffer.

Another angle to government service which came to my mind is that of the use of  power by work superiors so that their subordinates are manipulated to become dishonest.  Some government workers are not honest because they are not allowed to be honest by their work superiors. It is easy enough to say that one can always resign but when your family is dependent on your salary and you are not of that age that can easily change jobs, plus the fact that  there are not that many jobs to land anyway, what can one do?

If being honest or staying honest  is a  great concern for  preserving moral integrity  in our society  I came to realize that this is an area that Filipinos of all faith traditions can sincerely pray for.

Most people pray  for God to grant  good health, material things that we need in our lives, happier relations with those we love and care for, peace so we have security in our persons and our possessions. We normally have a long list of favors we want God to grant.  Perhaps we can include in our prayers of petition those who serve our country in government positions and who need to be strengthened against the temptations to be dishonest. Or strengthened to resist  the power plays that force them to be dishonest.

Some workers are blessed because they are in work environments which present little or no challenges to one’s honesty. But there are very many who do not have this blessing. And they want to stay above the temptation to be dishonest. Let us remember them, and pray for their intentions.