Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Moral Value of Integrity

We  have had many examples of INTEGRITY presented to us over time, such as Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; President Kennedy's speech from the Oval Office in 1962, in which he proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.  These are examples of people acting on what is right, because it is right.

Our own examples, maybe little known to others, are possibly accomplished in obscurity when we speak up against a bully, when we confront a negative personal issue in our life, or when we go against the majority for ethical reasons.  I am reminded here of Baruch Spinoza being cast out of his Jewish community in Amsterdam because of his agnostic views on man's purpose, as opposed to rabbinical teachings.  Spinoza went on to advance the secular views of science and our own immutable engagement with reality and not mysticism.

Recently I have personally experienced a profound  awareness on the power of doing what is right, because it is right.  In June of 2012, President Obama signed an Executive Order, controversial in the eyes of some, that allowed petitioners of Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals, all children brought into this country by their parents to gain the U.S. Employment Authorization Card.  There are laws in the US that protect a child from the actions of their parents.  In many parts of the world, in the recent past, children had to uphold the debts of their parents; we also find this in liturgical writings where the children of sinners have to atone for the religious transgressions of the parents into generations.

Within DACA,  when  an eligible individual turns 15 years of age, he has the ability to prove to the Federal government, that he has been in this country during the proscribed years covered by the Executive Order.  It is no small feat to prove that you have been in this country when you were in the shadows all of this time.  I was aware that the executive order was happening and later in the year understood that the supplicants to DACA would be issued the US Employment Authorization Card, a Federal ID.  A Federal ID is the rule of law, it is what it is, regardless of how anyone feels about the motivation, by the President, to sign the executive order.  When the ID is issued, and thus far 800,000 have applied within a possible 2 million eligible universe, the person is able to use the ID to acquire a driver's license, open a bank account and work legally in the U.S.  

Thus it became easy for me to request the approval of the card as an accepted form of identification by which to open a bank account.  By the way, there are a myriad number of approved identifications by which to identify yourself under the US Patriot Act.  But then, my own conscience began to wear on me.  Maybe you have read about my family's immigrant origin; the role my father played in establishing the Latino community in Amsterdam, NY and then in NC; and our belief and behavior on the unalienable rights of every human being to seek out liberty and impact for themselves and their society.  

I lost sleep knowing that I had the potential to reach into the broader immigrant communities: Asians, Africans, Latinos and others that had migrated into the US over many generations, to let them know that we as an industry (I am in the BANKING industry), wished to know them, wished to know their hopes and dreams, and that we were committed  to helping them to accomplish their hopes and dreams. I knew that I could not rest on just being able to accept yet another form of ID.  I knew that we had to go to where these people live, work, pray and learn, and invite them to our bank.

In a moment of clarity, we focused ourselves on our Vision, our Mission and our Values.  Thus began an effort in May of 2013, through the outside business efforts of our multicultural banking centers we began to call on our business clients (who employ these people in EVERY industry), visits to the faith community, and to the education institutions: that my bank acknowledges the DACA, and wishes to be the trusted financial partner of the broader immigrant community, most of them BORN in the U.S., but who all remember the immigrant story of their father and mother, or grandparents - Dutch, Italians, Poles, Scotch-Irish, German, Mexican, Costa Rican, Israeli, Chinese, Jamaican, Sudanese, Serbian or Vietnamese to name a few.

In time, they have come to us BECAUSE we went to them. My most significant professional experience has not been attaining a certain job within my organization.  It is in seeing that these young people, because of the US Employment Authorization Card, have become employees of my organization. That is a JUST REWARD; for them and for us. I will also guarantee you that EVERYONE of them will apply, because no human being will exist on the margins of society given the opportunity to integrate into their community.

The business world is about pure economics.  You take resources, you make them relevant or not to those that you would serve, and then you count up your wins or losses.  My institution is one of the oldest in the US.  We have learned in recent times that we must take our solutions to the market, in what has become a very fragmented industry being completely changed by virtual solutions at the touch of an app. 

Have we done something noble and honorable?  Or have we done something necessary for our own future survival?  When 50% of children entering the public schools in NC are African, Asian and Latino, what does that mean for our future 5, or 10 years from now?  When 1/3 of the nation is of African, Asian and Latino heritage, what does that mean for our country 5, or 10 years from now.

Maybe INTEGRITY is about being true to YOU!

In the final analysis, your attitude determines your effectiveness in everything, every time! LGL www.LuisLobo.Biz