M: Integrity, justice, standing up for the truth, defending the weak and the oppressed. These are some time-honored principles that everyone, not only government officials, should live up to. But sadly, even in the legal profession, which is said to be the most noble, those attributes are lacking. While many would like to change our country, organizations or workplaces, we can only do so if we start changing ourselves. Integrity with self generates integrity in others.
DJ: Integrity is not only something we require others to have but also an attitude that we should expect more from ourselves. Ateneo taught me the belief that expertise without integrity is empty, integrity without expertise is ineffectual, while expertise and integrity without service is irrelevant. For us to succeed, we need both competence and character. And for us to make a difference, we need to use them to better other people’s lives.
M: A simple take on the law on karma says that we get what we deserve. I do not think we deserve to be governed by people who are overly ambitious, unprincipled or by those who cannot even remain faithful to their marriage vows. There is nothing wrong with ambition. I remember when I was still in law school, a friend’s aunt who I had just met during a wake commented “ambisyosa sad ka da” when she learned that I was taking up law. Immediately, I was already thinking of attending the next funeral: Hers. But seriously, ambition, if not coupled with good intentions, as trong work ethic and a clear understanding of what the responsibility of the position entails, is useless.
DJ: There was a story of three women who were about to be executed. The guard brought the first one forward and the executioner asked if she had any last request. She said “none” and the executioner shouted “Ready! Aim!”—suddenly she yelled, “Earthquake!’’ Everyone threw themselves on the ground while she escaped. The guard brought the second one forward: “Ready! Aim!” Then suddenly she yelled, “Tornado!” Everyone looked around for cover while she escaped. By now, the third woman had it all figured out. “Ready! Aim!”—and then she yelled, “Fire!” Moral of the story? Lying might bring us temporary gains in the beginning but it is never sustainable.
M: There are some very wise sayings about choosing the right company to keep, which also applies to choosing the right people for positions not only of distinction but also of great influence. “If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights... Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity.”
DJ: Integrity is when our words, thoughts and actions are consistent. It’s tough. But if we want more of it, we need to be the change that we seek. Integrity starts within.