Can good values prevent our descent into deception?
Can good values help our ascent from deception?
We’re Going Wrong (Cream, originally recorded/released in 1967)
2005 Royal Albert Hall version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlx5s96gDvI
Deception: it is never too far away from us. It is entrenched in our cores, in our colleagues, in our companies, definitely in our commercials, our communities, countries, and depending on one’s worldview, perhaps even in the cosmos. Fortunately, so also is virtue..
This entry offers several core quotes about the nature of deception (part one, primarily from social psychologists) and about values to support personal and financial integrity (part two, from mission organizations). It continues the call by the 100+ signatories of the Shine the Light—Together petition, made to all those affected by the NCI et al fraud. Those being called to help (in addition to government investigative bodies) include specific organisations in the church-mission and humanitarian communities; former and current personnel, leaders, board members, donors, and partners; projects and people receiving NCI money; and all those who have information and influence to help. This entry also echoes one of Rand Guebert’s consistent concerns in his professional review regarding NCI et al: “One question arises over and over in this review--where is the ethical and accountable corporate governance?” (Integrated Executive Summary, p. 9)
Descending into Deception
“So what are the seven social processes that grease the slippery slope of evil? Mindlessly taking the first small step. Dehumanization of others. De-individuation of self. Diffusion of personal responsibility. Blind obedience to authority. Uncritical conformity to group norms. Passive tolerance to evil through inaction or indifference.” Philip Zimbardo, The Psychology of Evil, TedTalk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsFEV35tWsg.
“When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance [inner disharmony between our ideal self and actual self] that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right—a belief that is dumb, immoral, and wrong.".
"Most people, when directly confronted by evidence that they are wrong, do not change their point of view or course of action but justify it even more tenaciously. Even irrefutable evidence is rarely enough to pierce the mental armor of self-justification….That is why self-justification is more powerful and more dangerous than the explicit lie. It allows people to convince themselves that what they did was the best thing they could have done. In fact, come to think of it, it was the right thing. “There was nothing else I could have done.” “Actually, it was a brilliant solution to the problem.” “It was doing the best for the nation….Now between the conscious lie to fool others and unconscious self-justification to fool ourselves lies a fascinating gray area, patrolled by that unreliable, self-serving historian—memory. Memories are often pruned and shaped by an ego-enhancing bias that blurs the edges of past events, softens culpability, and distorts what really happened…Over time, as the self-serving distortions of memory kick in and we forget or distort past events, we may come to believe our own lies, little by little….Before long, we have persuaded ourselves, believing privately what we originally said publically…."
"Yet mindless self-justification, like quicksand, can draw us deeper into disaster. It blocks our ability to even see our errors, let alone correct them. It distorts reality, keeping us from getting all the information we need and assessing issues clearly. It prolongs and widens rifts between lovers, friends, and nations. It keeps us from letting go of unhealthy habits. It permits the guilty to avoid taking responsibility for their deeds. And it keeps many professionals from changing outdated attitudes and procedures that can be harmful to the public." Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, 2007(excerpts from overleaf, pp. 4-10).
“But at any time an organization makes a seriously wrong decision, its leaders should call for an intensive postmortem. Such learning opportunities are too often overlooked. The tendency is simply to call on the public relations department to spin the mater, to make another inadequately thought-out decision, and perhaps to scapegoat, even fire, a few staff members. Because most companies cover up their mistakes instead of learning from them, systemic flaws in information flow tend to remain to do their damage another day….Pride in belonging to a high-performing or a high-status group and the cozy sense of belonging to a tight-knit organizational “family” can be genuine sources of professional satisfaction. The paradox is that there is a dark side to belonging—the almost reflexive temptation to spin information in ways that protect the group’s shared pride, to make the group look better than it really is, or even simply to preserve the group. All these make it easier for group members to suppress information or distort it.” Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O'Toole, with Patricia Ward Biederman. Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor, 2007 (pp. 22-23; 35-36).
"Using a variety of influence tactics, the psychopaths manipulated their network of one-on-one personal bonds to gather information they could use to advance their own careers, derail the careers of rivals, or enlist technical support when the company made demands on them (to actually do their jobs). Specifically, their game plans involved manipulating communication networks to enhance their own reputation, to disparage others, and to create conflicts and rivalries among organization members, thereby keeping them from sharing information that might uncover the deceit. They also spread disinformation in the interest of protecting their scam and furthering their own careers. Being exceedingly clever and secretive, they were able to cloak their association with the disinformation, leading others to believe that they were innocent of manipulation. (pp. 129-130)....Unfortunately no group is more surprised to learn that they have been psychologically manipulated than those who believe they are smarter and stronger than others, no matter how true this may be....(p. 131)We did find coworkers, peers, and executives who saw through some of the manipulation and deceit...Unfortunately few brought their concerns to the "victims" or to management. Reasons for this silence most often included " I'm minding my own business"; " No one would listen to me"; and "It's not my place to intervene."(p.133) ....Eventually it became obvious that the psychopaths were effectively balancing the discrepant views of their coworkers, and relying on consistent charm, occasional intimidation, and basic trusting nature of people, and frequent organizational changes to maintain their fictional personas in the eyes of those who mattered most....(p. 136) Eventually someone tries to do something about it. A former pawn might challenge or confront the individual, and perhaps even try to bring the situation to the attention of higher ups. Unfortunately, by this time the psychopath is well positioned through the networks already established with others in the power hierarchy. The tables are turned because the credibility of the complaining employee has already been "managed" and undermined. The employee wonders what has happened. As potential rivals and detractors are neutralized, the psychopath is free to continue operations unchallenged.....(p. 138) Unfortunately some unnamed victims were reorganized out of their jobs, had their careers derailed, or left their companies in disgust." (p.140) Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, 2006 (excerpts from chapter six; Pawns, Patrons, and Patsies)
Committing to Values--Valuing Commitments
World Evangelical Alliance: Mission Commission
"[This code spurs us]…to integrity and to holiness, to faithfulness to our marital vows, to full financial transparency, to personal and corporate transformational discipleship, to serious mutual accountability, and to the honourable treatment of each other as created in the image of God. The degree to which we fall short may determine whether we ought to continue in ministry and as Associates of the WEA Mission Commission….We commit ourselves to financial integrity. We accept our responsibility as stewards of God’s resources. We will reveal our funding proposals and open our personal financial records to trusted colleagues for their critique. Our corporate financial books will be evaluated by competent accounting firms who can examine our finances and by courageous colleagues who can evaluate our motives and processes as we raise, account for and utilize funds." (Connections, August 2007, pp. 12ff). Retrieved from:
Global Connections, UK
"Members are expected to maintain high standards of integrity in the areas of publicity, fund raising and accountancy, which will commend the cause of world mission as represented by Global Connections….In all activities, members should be characterised by honesty, integrity and a validity of purpose, method and means, in harmony with Christian principles, as well as with a recognition of the laws of the lands in which it works….In the raising and use of funds, members have obligations to donors, the Christian public and people with whom they work, to ensure that income is used solely to fulfil the declared objectives. This obligation includes: Publishing clear statements on the proposed use of funds. Having an annual audit (or independent examination) of the accounts in line with the Charities Act and if appropriate the Companies Act. These should be made available to donors and the general public upon reasonable request. Having clear management systems and clear evidence that fund raising and disbursement authority is not vested exclusively in any one individual. Ensuring that the expenditure on administrative overheads and publicity is kept to a level consistent with efficiency. Providing simple understandable reports, charts and diagrams to show the public how funds has been used." Retrieved from:
Youth With A Mission
"We are called to lead holy and righteous lives that exemplify the nature and character of God….YWAM affirms that everything exists because God communicates. Therefore, YWAM is committed to truthful, accurate, timely and relevant communication. We believe good communication is essential for strong relationships, healthy families and communities, and effective ministry." Retrieved from:
Mercy Ships International
"Mercy Ships is committed to being completely transparent with you. Donors like you deserve more than vague overviews. You deserve to see how your contributions directly impact those in need of critical care and love. View our financials page to download our annual reports, audit reports, and form 990s. If you need anything else, call us. We love talking with our partners about all that we’re doing to reach the world’s forgotten poor." Retrieved from: https://www.mercyships.org/financials/.
There are two ways, one of life and one of death,
and there is a great difference between these two ways.
Didache, circa 70 a.d.