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You Can Change the World

In this age of instant information, any ethical misstep by a well-known person is just a click away from the world's desktop. That's why, after watching the behavior of the former heads of scandal-plagued companies such as Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco, many people now find it difficult to trust any corporate CEO. The barrage of news stories reporting the transgressions of powerful people is creating an overwhelming generalization among the American population: that is, that no one is trustworthy.

What can a single person do to change that mindset? Consider this passage from the book, Essays to do Good, by Cotton Mather (1663-1728): "A little man may do a great deal of harm; and pray, why not a little man do a great deal of good?" Weigh Mather's argument in light of today's ethical environment: if the behavior of a small group of business figures can cast suspicion on the integrity of an entire nation, why can't the actions of a small number of morally strong individuals restore the public's faith that people are generally good?

By choosing to live with integrity, you'll help to fight back the onslaught of unethical behavior. You might not get the publicity afforded notorious business scoundrels. But those close to you will notice, and you'll succeed in proving that there are still honorable people in the world.

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