For a long time we have gone along with some well-tested principles of conduct:
- that it was better to tell the truth than falsehoods;
- that a half-truth was no truth at all;
- that duties were older than and as fundamental as rights;
- that, as Justice Holmes put it, the mode by which the inevitable came to pass was effort;
- that to perpetuate a harm was always wrong, no matter how many joined in it, but to perpetuate it on a weaker person was particularly detestable …
Our institutions are founded on the assumption that most people will follow these principles most of the time because they want to, and the institutions work pretty well when this assumption is true.
Dean Acheson, statesman and lawyer (1893-1971)
Acheson drew much criticism and praise for his view of the world and his actions as a diplomat, but his dedication to public service is unquestioned.
These words seem far more relevant for us today than they did 60 years ago when he wrote them.
Thanks to A Word A Day for finding this quotation.
Get a FREE copy of Kill the Quarterback
Get a free digital copy of Jim Stovall's mystery novel, Kill the Quarterback. You will also get Jim's newsletter and advanced notice of publications, free downloads and a variety of information about what he is working on. Jim likes to stay in touch, so sign up today.