The dishonest selfish capitalist is morally short-sighted. Like the drunkard who sees the immediate pleasure of his habit, but not the ultimate degradation, he sees the immediate effect of a dishonest act—a larger profit—but not its ultimate outcome
A question we ask around here when we have to make a difficult decision is:Is it unfair, unkind, unjust, or dishonest?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ we don’t do it, no matter how advantageous the short-term benefit might look.
The upright man by his very presence commands the morality of those about him making them better than they were. Men are powerfully influ-enced by one another, and, as good is more powerful than evil, the strong and good man both shames and elevates, by his contact, the weak and bad. The man of integrity carries about with him an unconscious grandeur which both awes and inspires.
Having lifted himself above the petty, the mean, and the false, those coward vices slink from his presence in confu-sion. The highest intellectual gift cannot compare with this lofty moral grandeur. In the memory of men and the estimation of the world the man of integrity occupies a higher place than the man of genius. Buckminster says, “The moral grandeur of an independent integrity is the sublimest thing in nature.”
It is the quality in man which produces heroes. The man of un-swerving rectitude is, intrinsically, always a hero. It only needs the occasion to bring out the heroic element. He is always, too, possessed a permanent happiness.
The man of genius may be very unhappy, but not to the man of integrity. Nothing nor sickness, nor calamity, nor death — can deprive him of that permanent satisfaction which inheres in uprightness. Rectitude leads straight to prosperity by four successive steps.
First, the upright man wins the confidence of others. Second, having gained their con-fidence, they put trust in him. Third, this trust, never being violated, produces a good reputation; and fourth, a good reputation spreads further and further, and so bring about success.
Dishonesty has the reverse effect. By destroying the confidence of oth-ers, it produces in them suspicion and mistrust, and these bring about a bad reputation, which culminates in failure.
The Pillar of Integrity is held together by these four virile elements:
Honesty is the surest way to success. The day at last comes when the dishonest man repents in sorrow and suffering: but not man ever needs to repent of having been honest. Even when the honest man fails — as he does sometimes, through lacking other of these pillars, such as energy, economy, or system his failure is not the grievous thing it is to the dishonest man, for he can always rejoice in the fact that he has never defrauded a fellow being.
Even in his darkest hour he finds repose in a clear conscience. Ignorant men imagine that dishonesty is a short cut to prosperity. This is why they practice it. The dishonest man is morally short sighted. Like the drunkard who sees the immediate pleasure of his habit, but not the ultimate degradation, he sees the immediate effect of a dishonest act — a larger profit but not its ultimate outcome; he does not see that an accumulated number of such acts must inevitably undermine his character, and bring his business toppling about his ears in ruin.
While pocketing his gains, and thinking how cleverly and successfully he is imposing on others, he is all the time impos-ing on himself, and every coin thus gained must be paid back with added interest, and from this just retribution there is no possible loophole of es-cape.
This moral gravitation is an sure and unvarying as the physical gravitation of a stone to the earth. The tradesman who demands of his assistants that they shall be, and misrepresents his goods to customers, is surrounding himself on all hands with suspicion, mistrust, and hatred.
Even the moral weaklings who carry out his instructions, despise him while defiling themselves with his unclean work. How can success thrive in such a poisonous atmosphere?
The spirit of ruin is already in such a business, and the day of his fall is ordained. An honest man may fail, but not because he is honest, and his failure will be honourable, and will not injure his character and reputation. His fail-ure, too, resulting doubtless from his incapacity in the particular direction of his failure, will be a means of leading him into something more suited to his talents, and thus to ultimate success.
Fearlessness accompanies honesty.
The honest man has a clear eye and an unflinching gaze. He looks his fellow men in the face, and his speech is direct and convincing. The liar and cheat hangs his head; his eye is muddy and his gaze oblique. He cannot look another man in the eye, and his speech arouses mistrust, for it is ambiguous and unconvincing.
When a man has fulfilled his obligations, he has nothing to fear. All his business relations are safe and secure. His methods and actions will endure the light of day. Should he pass through a difficult time, and, get into debt, everybody will trust him and be willing to wait for payment, and all his debts will be paid.
Dishonest people try to avoid paying their debts, and they live in fear; but the honest man tries to avoid getting into debt, but when debt overtakes him, he does not fear, but, redoubling his exertions, his debts are paid. The dishonest are always in fear. They do not fear debt, but fear that they will have to pay their debts.
They fear their fellow men, fear the established authorities, fear the results of all that they do, and they are in constant fear of their misdeeds being revealed, and of the consequences which may at any moment overtake them.
The honest man is rid of all this burden of fear. He is light hearted, and walks erect among his fellows; not assuming a part, and skulking and cring-ing, but being himself, and meeting eye to eye. Not deceiving or injuring any, there are none to fear, and anything and against him can only rebound to his advantage. And this fearlessness is, in itself, a tower to strength in a man’s life, supporting him through all emergencies, enabling him to battle manfully with difficulties, and in the end securing for him that success of which he cannot be dispossessed.
Purposefulness is the direct outcome of that strength of character which integrity fosters. The man of integrity is the man of direct aims and strong and intelligent purposes. He does not guess, and work in the dark.
All his plans have in them some of that moral fiber of which his character is wrought. A man’s work will always in some way reflect himself, and the man of sound integrity is the man of sound plan. He weights and considers and looks ahead, and so is less likely to make serious mistakes, or to bungle into a dilemma from which it is difficult to escape.
Taking a moral view of all things, and always considering moral consequences, he stands on a firm-er and more exalted ground than the man of mere policy and expedience; and while commanding a more extended view of any situation, he wields the greater power which a more comprehensive grasp of details with the princi-ples involved, confers upon him.
Morality always has the advantage of expediency. Its purposes always reach down far below the surface, and are therefore more firm and secure, more strong and lasting. There is a native directness, too, about integrity, which enables the man to get straight to the mark in whatever he does, and which makes failure almost impossible.
Strong men have strong purposes, and strong purposes lead to strong achievements. The man of integrity is above all men strong, and his strength is manifested in that thoroughness with which he does the business of his life; thoroughness which commands respect, admiration, and success. Invincibility is a glorious protector, but it only envelopes the man whose integrity is perfectly pure and unassailable.
Never to violate, even in the most insignificant particular, the principle of integrity, is to be invincible against all the assaults of innuendo, slander, and misrepresentation.
The man who has failed in one point is vulnerable, and the shaft of evil, entering that point, will lay him low, like the arrow in the heel of Achilles. Pure and perfect integrity is proof against all attack and injury, enabling its possessor to meet all opposition and persecution with dauntless courage and sublime equanimity.
No amount of talent, intellect, or business acumen can give a man that power of mind and peace of heart which come from an enlightened acceptance and observance of lofty moral principles.
Moral force is the greatest power. Let the seeker for a true prosperity discover this force, let him foster and develop it in his mind and in his deeds, and as he succeeds he will take his place among the strong leaders of the earth. Such is the strong and adamantine Pillar of integrity. Blessed and pros-perous above all men will be he who builds its incorruptible masonry into the temple of his life.