Spirituality for Today – June 2009 – Volume 13, Issue 11

Editorial – An Honest Job

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of an ice cream cone

I stood spellbound watching him apply his art with consummate skill. You may not consider turning a flow of soft ice cream emitting from a machine into a sugar cone into a perfect conical form a particularly admirable feat – just try it sometime. After the exchange of currency for cone, I asked him, the owner, why he was at the store all of the time and what had happened to the teenagers who used to work for him? He said, "I couldn't trust them."

Instances of corruption and dishonesty have tainted every profession and institution. Occasioning particular horror is the pervasive dishonesty within the very institutions that garner the most public trust. In whom can you put faith? Employees are asking that question about their employers; employers are asking that question about their employees. Honesty and integrity in professional and in personal relationships appear to be in short supply. Concern for the common good and expressions of human decency are lacking too often in our current culture.

The nature of this breakdown of morals in society is reminiscent of the decade of the 1960s. The cultural shockwave felt from those times still have force today. Perhaps, the seeds of self-indulgence and moral relativism sown then may be reaching maturity in our age. There was, however, in the decade's more innocent beginnings, a very reasonable inquiry into the morality of those in power. Political and spiritual leaders were expected to live up to the high ideals they espoused. The Vietnam War, Vatican II, Civil Rights, the John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations, and then the Watergate scandal threw the nation into turmoil and moral confusion. The call for self-examination became rebellion, a negation of traditional morals, and a spiritual malaise.

Next the arrival of the "Me Generation" brought with it the cult of narcissism and relativism. The crowning touch of secularism has opened the gates for promoting life according the dictum: "If you can get away with it, it's all right."

Concern for the common good and expressions of human decency are lacking too often in our current culture.

The answer to my ice cream barista's and society's problem lies where it always has - in one's self. Dedication in persevering toward the end of living up to the expectations of the Creator plants an entirely new seed in an individual's conscience. Determining to evaluate every thought, word, and deed by the criteria of love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self, sets one on a path that will be beneficial for the individual and for all that one encounters. One might opine that the Great Commandment and all of the teachings of Christ have been around for almost two millennia and the resistance of humankind to his teaching remains unabated. Yes and No! The moral code proclaimed by Jesus forms the standard by which our institutions and personal lives are measured. The moral law of Christ is the very definition of all the beliefs that we want to find in others and hope for in ourselves. Doing it is the challenge.

One barrier to success is our population's current love affair with diversity and toleration. This trend makes for a happy circumstance in many areas of life, but not all. There is much in human behavior that must not be validated by paying homage to diversity or toleration. In addition, the concepts of reward and punishment need revisiting. Feelings of contentment and even elation in manifesting virtue and a true experience of contrition for sin represent a state of daily living much to be desired. We are all capable of committing spiritual suicide; we are all capable of achieving the Pauline goal of fighting the good fight and running the good race. Which will it be? I, the ice cream man, and the world await your answer.