Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

“I believe a life of integrity is the most fundamental source of personal worth.”

– Stephen Covey

It so happens that my daughter’s high school has been plagued by multiple bomb threats during the past few weeks. Yesterday (presumably) the same budding domestic terrorist left a package of .22 caliber shells in one of the bathrooms, triggering a 90 minute lock-down and the fifth early dismissal of the year. Now the FBI has been called in. Frightening stuff.

Of course this morning–as has been the case with prior incidents–the street in front of the school is lined with TV reporters, their brightly colored vans and tell-tale telescoping satellite poles visible from well down the street.

Of course I don’t know what is driving this sick individual (or group) to wreak havoc on our school–and obviously it could be far worse.  But I do think there is a decent chance that they are driven by a desire for attention.  So if you work at one of these media outlets, you may well be encouraging this destructive behavior.

Certainly the media is fully within their rights to cover whatever they choose. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.

This is of course just one, very personal, example of this type of phenomena. But it’s not hard to find others.

Maybe you work in the financial services industry, and you prop up your profits by misleading teaser rates and gotcha’ nuisance fees.

Maybe you are a politician and you spin the facts to distort reality, or employ procedural technicalities to advance your agenda.

Maybe you are a religious zealot, who uses one section of the Bible (or the Koran) to justify a particular set of behaviors, while conveniently ignoring other parts of the same doctrine that contradict beliefs you’d like to maintain.

Maybe you are a direct marketer and use deceptive copy to trick people into opening your mail pieces.

H. Jackson Brown Jr. once wrote: “Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.”

Fine advice indeed.


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