You know what? When I look back on my little life and the birds I've known, and think of all the things they've done for me and the little I've done for them, you'd think I've had the best of it along the line. But what have I got out of it? — Michael Caine, speaking as Alfie, in the movie of the same name (1966).

Having lived in the grandeur of Washington, DC for a number of years, I've experienced firsthand the value of integrity and the diminishment of human values caused by the lack of it. Integrity: it's something all of us have — or lack. But the hopeful bottom line is that it can be developed, even enhanced. It just takes time, effort, and diligence.

We've witnessed the value of integrity a lot of late, and the painful repercussions from the lack of it, physically and psychologically. Both the former and the latter can be very painful. Take, for instance, the abominable hurricane season that has devastated Florida and the Gulf Coast. Initially, the lack of FEMA response to the New Orleans crisis following Katrina was spectacularly insensitive, and showed a lack of integrity in the obvious slow response of the federal government agencies. The situation was compounded by the behavior of the executive branch, after the fact.

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