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Archbishop Gordon:  Impossible to live a crooked life when the only line is a straight line*

Lara Gordon-Pickford lpgordon.camsel@rcpos.org

Striving for a virtuous life can have consequences. Archbishop Jason Gordon illustrated this disclosing that his father quit a job after being asked to do something wrong.

“My father, with wife and children depending on him, resigned from his job because they asked him to do something he felt he could not do and he tendered his resignation the same day,” he said April 5 at the Catholics in the Workplace TT (CiWTT) retreat Holy Rosary RC, Port of Spain which has the theme Connecting what we believe with how we live. Acts such as this help build a society and nation of integrity. He added, “That is what builds a civilisation where everyone knows that they can trust each other and we can live together in harmony.”

Speaking on the topic of ‘Integrity in the workplace’, he stated as a country it was now difficult to foster virtue as the core of the “who we are”. Archbishop Gordon underscored corruption has become so much a part of TT society that people have adopted a “11th commandment —Thou shall not get caught.

“We have come to a place where we start believing it really doesn’t matter. Once we could get away with it, we should do it, and that’s a recipe for a disaster, a disaster we are already facing, a disaster that is exploding in sweet T & T,” he told the large congregation on the final day of the retreat.

The focus of attention for corruption is often the “bad boys” and “big boys taking the big money” but Archbishop Gordon gave the examples of not working a full eight-hour work day and taking stationary from the office as “little acts” acts of corruption. This has bred a culture which has led to drugs, guns and violence overwhelming the country and where safety and security is now a concern for everybody.

“Corruption is not only for the big boys and them…it is also every citizen of this country and everybody in the workplace,” Archbishop Gordon said. He called for change for a difference to be seen in families, the nation and the world.

“If the majority of people get together to live in virtue and integrity regardless of the cost, the bad boys and them will not survive, and the politicians, the business leaders …will all fall into line because it would be impossible to live a crooked life when the only line is a straight line.”

Archbishop Gordon cited the first reading Wisdom 2:1,12–22 of the virtuous man, engaging the congregation to tell him how they responded when someone corrected them for doing something wrong. He responded that ego caused cover-ups, lies, excuses and vitriol against the person bringing attention to wrongdoing.

He said, “Ego is wanting the world to believe things about me that really ain’t true you know …ego is edging God out, and when ego is at the centre of our being, we have to protect the ego at all costs.” The unvirtuous is preoccupied with favourable external appearances but the virtuous strive hard to make “everything right on the inside” and their happiness came from their relationship with God.

The virtuous man in the reading even by his presence caused discomfort in others by exposing them as “counterfeit”. The Archbishop said having Christ at the centre of one’s life meant making a commitment to integrity and doing the right thing “regardless of the consequences” and who would be upset.