11/12/11 — Integrity: Why does it seem to be in such short supply these days?

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Integrity: Why does it seem to be in such short supply these days?

Unless you were looking at a flag or honoring a veteran on Friday, it was not the greatest week for heroes.

From the horrific stories out of Penn State -- of who knew what and did nothing -- to the continuing saga of the drama of the competition for the Republican spot in the presidential election, it would have been easy to throw up your hands and wonder out loud just what this world is coming to.

And perhaps we have forgotten a few things along the way.

Remember when Gabby Giffords was shot and the calls went up for people to be nicer to each other and for the rhetoric of hate and partisanship to be set aside?

Has it been? No, not really. And has the president spoken out against recent language levied by those in his own party? Nope.

How about the media circus that surrounds every presidential campaign? Are we focusing on the issues and avoiding innuendo? Nope.

And last but not least, which stories are getting the most attention -- the hardcore analysis of what we need to do as a nation to fix our schools, our budget and our future? Nope. The covers belong to Kim Kardashian and her 72-day marriage.

If we want a better country, our priorities have to change.

If we want a better future for our children, we have to put the hard work in now -- and acknowledge where we have already made mistakes.

Values like integrity, honor and responsibility do not just happen. They require instruction, examples and consequences.

When bad behavior is celebrated -- and rewarded -- it becomes the norm. And that is not what builds a strong nation.

America has good bones. This is still the nation of entrepreneurs and explorers. We are still a country of courage and conviction that stands tall when necessary and is always ready to help someone who needs us, no matter what the risk.

We are still the descendants of the men and women who earned the title of the Greatest Generation -- and are creating one of our own, even if sometimes the going seems tougher than usual.

And that means we have the tools we need to be the country our ancestors expected us to be.

All it will take is expecting more -- honest representation from our leaders, putting a premium on doing what's right, not what's easy, and teaching our children that heroes are not made in Hollywood.

That's the mission we should be focused on now.

Published in Editorials on November 12, 2011 11:18 PM