US Absence at Paris Peace Rally Morally Wrong


, , ,

France marches for solidarity

France March care of CBS News

The news report was hard to believe, I must have misunderstood. Turning up the TV volume, I focused attention on the anchor. Unfortunately I heard right.

No top level person from the US government walked in the peace rally yesterday. How could this be?

In our time of need after 9-11, the French stood with us. French soldiers have died in the war on terror. A war we are fighting together. Innocent citizens died in Paris last week. How could we stand aside yesterday? Where’s our support for the French victims?

While I’m not privy to the conversations that lead to decisions the facts are these:

  • The US Attorney General was in Paris at the time of the rally.
  • 44 leaders of countries found a way to participate, securely.

Where were our leaders? My America doesn’t fit their actions.

I believe in benefit of the doubt. So having spent two hours on a plane thinking about this, I net out here: We expect more of our leaders and they let us down.

A sincere apology and immediate show of support for the French are two quick actions that must happen. In addition, we should hold a peace rally across the country (yes there were some held yesterday in the US) where leaders from all walks of life participate. Let’s do something that isn’t window dressing, let’s show our good character as a nation.

This year I’ve committed to being less judgmental. Please help me have a conversation about this. Conservative and liberal friends and colleagues, my beef isn’t with a political party, my beef is with individuals who made choices that go against a central tenant of our country: freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What do you think?

Je suis Charlie
Nous sommes Charlie (We are Charlie)

What Integrity Does and Doesn’t Mean – My Grandfather’s Story


, , ,

While home at Thanksgiving I helped my Dad clean out some boxes from the family company that closed in 2006. For 50+ years my Grandfather, Dad and his siblings built a wholesale lumber business that provided for five families. It was a business built on strong values, customer service and doing what’s right.

Most of the contents in the boxes were office paper work, some dating back to before I was born. It was nostalgic to read about day-to-day activities of the family business in the 50’s and early 60’s.

The most powerful moment was when I opened a folder and saw my Grandfather’s obituary. He died on January 5, 1981. The headline reads, “His lumber firm built on honesty.”


Honesty described my grandfather. Another word comes to mind when I think of him is integrity. As I re-read the obituary and reflected on my memories, I wondered, do I always act with integrity like he did?

Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness

What does integrity in action look like today?
Does it mean always acting in a certain manner regardless of the cost or impact?
Does it mean trying to do right by people most of the time?
Does it mean sacrificing your desires for the betterment of the whole?

In my work for America’s dairy farm families, one of our company values is integrity.

Everyone has their version of integrity. Here’s mine:

Integrity is a personal life choice to act in a way that respects a variety of opinions and options and upholds what is right in the chosen action.

“What is right…” By who’s standards? Mine, societies? For me it’s by my moral compass. The moral compass is shaped early in life. It is that voice inside us that we don’t always listen to but should.

For me, integrity DOES mean sacrificing my desires sometimes and treating others with respect despite differences of opinion.  It DOESN’T mean always acting in a certain manner regardless of the impact because the impact can negate the direction of the moral compass.

Integrity accurately described my Grandfather and he instilled this virtue in my Dad and his siblings. When the business was closing up, partially to external factors that were horribly unjust, my Dad acted with integrity every step of the way. It wasn’t easy to watch the company close and he felt the weight of responsibility as the oldest of the kids. It tortured me but it also reinforced my steadfast belief that integrity is one of the most important characteristics we should embrace as humans.

Here are some people I know personally that embody the word integrity.

Patrick Doyle and Lynne Liddle from Domino’s Pizza. Ok, their culture exudes integrity so I could add many more Domino’s team members to this list. Remember how they handled the unfortunate action of a couple employees a few years back?

Jean Ragalie-Carr, President National Dairy Council. She always puts the farmer’s first and practices what it means to do the right thing.

My parents. Anytime life challenged them, they acted with integrity.


Deeder Wedding

Others who make my list include Arnold Palmer, any coach who benches the star player that broke the rules, Malala Yousafzai, the average citizen who buys a homeless person a hot meal, void of judgment. Pope Francis makes my list as well.

In 2015, living the virtue of integrity will remain at the top of my “must do” list. I’ll succeed and fail for certain. The balance will be on success.

Who’s on your integrity list? Where have you seen integrity in action?

Comment on this blog: This blog is an opportunity to share but more so to learn from those who read it. Topics will include communications trends, cooking, gardening, sports and more. Please come back and help start a conversation.