Friday, July 21, 2017


H.R. (Bob) Haldeman
4th White House Chief of Staff
January 1969 through April 30, 1973
President:  Richard Nixon
"In looking back on it, there were all kinds of red flags. And had I been wiser, I certainly would have crept out when my instincts told me that this was a moral dilemma in which I was finding myself.  I went and lied; and I'm paying the price for that lack of will power... in effect, I abdicated my moral judgments and turned them over to somebody else. If I had any advice for my kids, it would be Never, ever, defer your moral judgments to anybody—your parents, your wife, anybody.  That's something that's very personal. And it's what a man has to hang on to.”  (H.R. Haldeman, Chief of Staff in the Richard Nixon White House, after 1.5 years in prison)
I add, that's what a man (woman) has that keeps a person close to God.  
No one should wait to be captive behind bars to learn to live by this advice.

As I try my best to grow up in relationhip to growing older, I find myself shaking my head and wondering why there are so many human beings who place themselves in situations that are clearly feeding gounds filled with gaping crocodiles.  It is beyond me that there are people who actually crave the public exposure that comes with being part of well known and blatantly immoral environments.  It is beyond me that there are great numbers of people who prefer to dedicate themselves to the interests of splinter groups rather than to the core, universal welfare of the global community.  

It is beyond me to reason why it is that some humans find it so hard to live by universal ethical and moral standards and so easy to pledge fidelity and grand allegiance to a smaller, weaker entity.  In practical terms, I ask myself 
- What is so hard about saying "no" to your boss? (Yes, I did that, more than once)
- What is so hard about compromise in favor of a commonly accepted value?
- What is so hard about joining forces around the lasting central treasure of evident good rather than to struggle alone to maintain personal, time delimited "recognition?"

Every day we all live in a world where these questions swirl all around and above us.  Every day we face the challenge of defining our personal treasure of what Haldeman calls the treasure of our "moral judgments."  Catholics call what he is defining as "conscience."  Catholics believe that it is immoral to "defer our moral judgment" to anyone else.  We are morally bound to act in line with our personal conscience.  
Yes, that brings us to act outside the dictates of civil law every now and then.  
Yes, that brings us to challenge our employer now and then
Yes, it can even bring us to challenge our parents and/or children now and then
and yes, it can bring us to refuse to take employment (or leave employment) in a publicly flashy entity because we are very sure that our conscience and the greater good will be challenged to the point of violation for the benefit of a personal desire dependent on unethical and/or immoral directives.

I have not written these words in a vacuum.  I have never had the opportunity to work in and for the civil government but I have had to confront "power" in my career; I have had the opportunity to enforce morally demanding civil laws, often in contradiction to the desires of company senior/executive management; I have had the opportunity to ensure that employees were treated fairly by company management...and yes, I suffered the consequences of my actions...and I'm still alive to talk about it.

Plus, on two separate occasions, years apart, there was recognition and conversion and I can still talk about that too.  

My reasons for writing this are rooted in behavior that surrounds us every day.  Good and bad and indifferent.  I want to signal that life requires courage.  In Gospel terms, "Pick up your cross every day and follow me."  We can be ethically and morally courageous but not without God's support.  So, go for it.  Say you heard it here if you want, but be sure that whatever you, and your friends, get from here holds you to the promise that you'll not cry at my funeral.

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