Rarely before in American history has there been such a need for the restoration of public trust in our government and businesses.
As Barack Obama takes the , he does so amid widespread disappointment in the alleged mercenary conduct of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), the insatiable greed of some in the business community that precipitated the economic meltdown, and the unprecedented apparently perpetrated by Bernard Madoff.
Bernard Madoff (C) walks out from Federal Court after a bail hearing in Manhattan January 5, 2009 in New York City. Paris prosecutors on Tuesday opened a fraud investigation into the Madoff scandal, after a French woman filed suit over the loss of her life savings, judicial officials said Tuesday.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Hiroko Masuike)
These scandals have eroded public confidence and have led to further cynicism about our institutions of government and business. In response, calls are mounting to enact various reforms designed to prevent – or at least uncover faster – such ethical breaches. But something much more fundamental is needed: a restoration of covenantal ideals.
By Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh
Christian Science Monitor
Those who accept the mantle of public service enter into a de facto covenant – a binding agreement – with those who are led, and the first tenet of that covenant is integrity.can be restored with a clearer understanding of that covenant. Government and business leaders must understand that their part of the covenant requires them to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and civility. Those who are led are also required to perform at their highest standards of integrity and civility. This reciprocal covenant may well involve a degree of selflessness and mutual sacrifice seldom demanded of our citizens today.
Almost 40 years ago, I was sworn in to Richard Nixon’s White House staff. After taking the oath of office, I was given four commissions appointing me to different positions during my tenure over the next four years. Each commission began with these words: “Reposing special trust in the integrity … of [your name] the president appoints you to [your position]” This preamble should have been an imperative for me to fulfill my part of the covenant between myself as a public servant and my fellow citizens.
However, in response to what I erroneously concluded was a national security crisis involving the leak of the to The New York Times, I committed a serious crime. I approved a “covert operation” to get derogatory information on the leaker of those documents and deprived a fellow citizen of his right to be free from an unreasonable, unwarranted search of his office, violated the “special trust” that was reposed in my integrity, and breached my duty under the covenant.
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