Sunday, October 11, 1998
I started out to write an article about other things, but with the House of Representatives voting to start proceedings relating to impeaching Bill Clinton, I feel any other topic would be terribly irrelevant and superficial.
Pass by any elementary school in Fayette County and you might see on the bulletin board out front words that read: "Word of the week: Integrity" or "Word of the week: Honesty."
Many people in Georgia do not know that Georgia not only has a Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) covering academic subjects in the public schools, but also a Georgia Board of education Rule (March 1991), which states that three core values will be taught to all public school students in grades K-12. These three core values are: respect for self, respect for others, and citizenship. Values such as "honesty" and "integrity" are "sub" values under the three major core values.
Many of the schools may spend a week or an entire month defining and applying concepts such as "integrity" to the teachers' and childrens' lives inside and outside the classroom.
The schools today call the lessons values education or pro-social behavior or conflict resolution or character/citizenship education, but I would wager a bet of 10 cents that it was called moral education when Bill Clinton was in school.
Bill Clinton apparently didn't learn his lessons well when the values of "integrity" and "honesty" were discussed.
He apparently forgot all about the principles that honesty and integrity are appropriate in the workplace, in the bedroom, in the church, in public office, in private office, and in the walls of Congress. He probably didn't learn his civics lessons very well either, which teaches that the principle of democracy based on the values expressed in the Constitution of the United States make the citizen aware of one of the traditional definitions of "morality," which is to balance the scales of individual "rights" with social "responsibilities."
The whole concept of an informed electorate as envisioned by Jefferson was based on an educated public that knew that individual "moral character" was needed to support the decisions and parameters and social constraints (laws) that are necessary for the "moral consensus," the common good.
Bill Clinton raised his hand twice to swear that he would support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Public school systems and other governmental structures have been birthed over the last 200 years based on democratic principles as expressed in the Constitution. And democratic principles only work when individual "rights" are balanced with individual and social "responsibilities." Our whole nation is founded on the character of the individual. Character does count! Integrity does count! Honesty does count!
(Dr. Knox Herndon is a recently retired chaplain and pastor of His House Community Church, 193 Johnson Ave., Fayetteville, Ga., behind the Mask Tire Company. For more information, call 770-719-2365 or e-mail, KHern2365@aol.com.)