By Fred Kusch  

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world … would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner

As I begin to write this column, it’s 35 below zero outside. Schools are closed, most government offices are closed, and employees of businesses are working from home if they can. People are “hunkered down,” as they say, but life does go on. All the while, I am certain decisions are being made. Some are good, others are not. Make enough good decisions, methinks, and if we are lucky, they will outweigh the bad ones to create success. Some of those decisions, however, will be more meaningful. 

Whether in work or life, it’s likely you have been confronted with a decision that was more about right and wrong than about a good or bad outcome. You have a choice to do the right thing or the expedient thing, to act responsibly or cut corners, to defer profit in the interest of reputation.

“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
― George Orwell

Unfortunately, we live at a time when doing the expedient thing has become acceptable, even encouraged. The problem with this approach is that with every expedient decision, the bar is lowered for the one that follows. These expedient decisions are, too often, either ill-informed, based on misinformation or, at their worst, intentional lies. 

Our president makes an unprecedented pronouncement one day, and within days makes another even more unprecedented than the first. How can we describe decisions that seemingly continue to lower the bar? I don’t know about you, but it seems we have run out of adjectives. If he is setting the standard, what standard are other leaders expected to follow? 

Lies, half-truths and innuendo seem to be the rule of the day from political leaders, business leaders and some news sources. Standards, fortunately, are not set by individuals but by society. It’s a democratic process based on constant behavioral feedback. The behavior is based on decisions, by small moments of truth, that when taken together will determine our future and the future of civilization. Think about it. It’s called the high road for a reason.

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”

This all being said, I believe we are at a moment of truth as a nation, a society and as individual citizens. We all—you and I—are at a moment of truth. What is your truth? Is it based on fact and real truth or is it based on emotion, bullying and bluster? I believe we are all being challenged today to truly examine truth—the decisions we make and decisions made for us. It takes time and hard work to dig into all the bluster and smokescreens put in front of us. I challenge you to do just that. Examine your truth. Then, when time calls you forth, speak it. It may be painful, but it will make a difference for you and the nation.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it—always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Fred Kusch, president and CEO of JFK Associates, is a well-known speaker, author, consultant and business coach. For more information, visit www.jfkassociates.com.