Monday, February 9, 2009

Integrity: An Invitation to Religious Leaders

by Michael Dowd

I am writing and posting this blog shortly after President Obama's inauguration. It is intended to introduce a concept that has been growing inside me for several years and that aches to be launched for others to help shape. For now, I shall call this meme global integrity:

Global integrity is right relationship at and with all nested levels, from the personal to the planetary, valuing the past, benefitting the future.

I believe that promotion of this concept could play a crucial role in moving through the crises now facing our nation (and the world). It establishes an easy-to-understand frame for discerning helpful actions when problems would otherwise seem too big or complex. Global integrity, as I define it here, has a distinctly religious cast. Hence my invitation to religious leaders to join me in discerning what role religion can play in helping our new president and a newly hopeful citizenry in transitioning through this crisis.

Surely I am not alone is sensing that a brilliant, dedicated, and charismatic president absolutely depends on our help. It is only a matter of time before Mr. Obama explicitly calls upon religious leaders to undertake the task of restoring the moral and ethical fiber of individuals and institutions in our nation -- but this time with respect to failings that led to the financial/economic crisis we are now in and the ecological crisis that looms.

Integrity is not just about politicians' private parts or the private lives of citizens; it's about our survival as a species. If religious leaders were to make this shift in focus, we would most surely discover that differences in beliefs and many of the seemingly irresolvable contentions of the past few decades fade into the background. Instead, religious leaders of vastly different faiths and political leanings will find substantial common ground. The common ground, I suggest, is integrity. If religious institutions do not step into the task of vigorously working for more integrous relations and systems at all levels within society, then who will?


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