Editor: Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks we understandably have been obsessed with national security. We spend billions attempting to keep suspects out of our country. Meantime, we permit the enemy within — corruption — to flourish. Corruption insinuates itself into our lives stealthily and is nothing short of a weapon of mass destruction.
Unchecked it can be our undoing. It will compromise our freedom, our trust and our integrity — all essentials for a viable, sustainable democracy. It is time for we citizens to say no to corruption.
The good news is that corruption is less embedded in our country than it is in most developing nations. Many of those countries are just recovering from decades of entrenched indigenous leaders who took the colonial rulers who preceded them — autocrats and dictators — as their role models. We have seen this year the unraveling of that era in North Africa and the Middle East — but the various outcomes of those revolutions are still to come, and recovery and reorganization will be slow.
Corruption reflects an utter disrespect for the well-being of a society; at stake in our country are the values that we cherish — that define us as a people. Still, we are more fortunate than the developing nations I refer to. We have the rule of law; a majority of our public and private sector leaders are honest; our judicial system is as good as it gets, notwithstanding some glaring examples of corruption of it in our own back yard.
But the increase in corruption in our nation and the pathological assumption by its perpetrators that it will go undiscovered and unpunished are alarming symptoms of our decline. It’s not too late to stem the tide. We have the skills and the processes, but do we have the will?
We don’t have forever.
Times Tribune June 26, 2011