Social benefits of integrity, the challenges of conflict and corruption

Real name
William Berkson

The rewards of acting with kindness and fairness—foundational Jewish values from the Prophet Micah—are most obvious when in a group where everyone has integrity, and is acting this way. This promotes strong and effective cooperation for the benefit of all in the group. In essence, the guidelines of the Sages are those which promote happy and productively cooperative groups. 

Where life gets complicated is when there are some individuals who don't give priority to kindness and fairness, or worse, are actively corrupt and self-serving at the expense of others. Then the person acting ethically can be seen as an enemy, and attacked. At these times moral courage, and shred strategy is needed for the ethical to survive and thrive. 

A great inspiration of the Sages is that by choosing good people, it is possible to build a beautify world to live in. In a highly flawed world, they inspire us to have the courage to push forward to create that better world for ourselves and others.  

REPLIES
Real name
Gail A. Fisher

Gail A. Fisher replied 2 months ago

This was one of the reservations that I had in reading the text.  It presupposes that we are in an ideal world in which everybody is more concerned about the good of the whole community than for their own self-interest, and everybody is striving to resist the yetzer ha'ra and to follow the yetzer ha'tov.  If I do a mitzvah and it makes me feel good, plus I get all sorts of positive feedback from others, I am indeed inclined to do more of them.  But that's not how everybody will be.  Eventually the time could come when I develop resentment over the fact that not everybody is bearing a fair share of the burden.  Some people might not bother with mitzvot because they are too self-centered or busy, and others might be the "takers" described in your post who sit back and let themselves be carried by those who do perform the mitzvot.   (And of course I'm thinking here of mitzvot between a person and his or her fellow people, not between a person and God.)  I am passionately concerned with tikkun olam, but I'd like to think that we all are (or at least the vast majority), rather than fearing that we're surrounded by cynics and opportunists.