Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886) son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson to President John Adams was an American lawyer, politician, diplomat and writer. He once stated:
“Failure seems to be regarded as the one unpardonable crime, success as the all-redeeming virtue, the acquisition of wealth as the single worthy aim of life. Ten years ago such revelations as these of the Erie Railway would have sent a shudder through the community, and would have placed a stigma on every man who had had to do them. Now they merely incite others to surpass by yet bolder outrages and more corrupt combinations.”
Honour or honor (from the Latin word honor, honoris) is the evaluation of a person’s trustworthiness and social status based on that individual’s espousals and actions. Honour is deemed exactly what determines a person’s character: whether or not the person reflects honesty, respect, integrity, or fairness. Accordingly, individuals are assigned worth and stature based on the harmony of their actions, code of honour, and that of the society at large. Honour can be analysed as a relativistic concept, i.e., conflicts between individuals and even cultures arising as a consequence of material circumstance and ambition, rather than fundamental differences in principle. Alternatively, it can be viewed as nativist — that honour is as real to the human condition as love, and likewise derives from the formative personal bonds that establish one’s personal dignity and character.
“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.”
He also stated:
“It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.”
As American entertainer and pithy humorist Will Rogers put it:
“There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you”
As you go about your work today…try to restore a little more honor in what you do today than you did yesterday. Let’s do what we can to make sure the term ‘Public Servant’ becomes less of a punchline and more an honorable profession in the mouths of our friends and colleagues.
Municipal Solutions, llc provides Ethics and Customer Service Training for public officials and administrative staff in partnership the James Madison Group.