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Sep 11, 2022

Integrity is not always a virtue

Liz Cheney and a few other brave Republicans have been accused of betrayal. Indeed, their anti-Trump stance is likely to help Democrats in the next electoral cycle and beyond. They found out that loyalty to the party and to the ideas it stands for is not the only virtue, and that virtues often conflict. For example, loyalty to the country is stronger than loyalty to their party. Those are not pleasant or easy findings. Being called a traitor by former friends and colleagues is not an experience anyone craves. Many people strive for integrity, that is a non-contradictory, coherent set of beliefs. However, it is not always attainable.

Thirty years ago, I would not have imagined the day when I wish Russia to lose a war with one of its neighbors. And yet this is exactly my hope today. Who knew that a bloody dictator would rule the country again? Who knew that it would invade Ukraine, its closest kin? Who knew that the Grand Old Party, the party of smaller government, of free market and social conservatism would one way be hijacked by a fascist?

Many people, including me, realized a while back that Trumpism is a nascent fascist movement. Biden did the right thing, calling it out publicly. Again, he went against many conventions, against the tradition of political speech in America. I am sure he was conflicted about it. One of the biggest mistakes anyone could make is failing to notice how the world suddenly shifts. Sticking to your principles regardless of circumstances is not a sign of some virtue; it is a sign of rigidity and close-mindedness.

We are ruled not by one, but by a set of commitments and principles. Those sometimes come into a conflict with each other. Those conflicts can tear one’s self apart. The bad way of dealing with the internal conflict is to cling to one of one’s values and ignore the others. “Yes, Trump is a liar and lacks empathy, but he is good for my party, and he helps it win.” “Yes, Russia is an aggressor and a dictatorship, but it is my country, and I will support it no matter what.” Those are voices of cowardice that is trying to pass for integrity.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:45 PM

    Thank you for clarifying that moment when one goes from being true and faithful to being cowardly and rigid. So important.
    Thank you for helping me to know what I was struggling with in my own mind!