Committing to Integrity
At the end of my September column, I said I was “stepping down” from the soapbox from which I opposed vaccine incentives and people who shirk individual responsibility. But I’m back on that soapbox because of news that some states are offering COVID-19 vaccination incentives to help settle court fines. Arkansas and Missouri are offering such bribes.
As part of the fourth annual Warrant Forgiveness Day (an anomaly all its own), Missouri municipal courts will be offering an added incentive: a reduction of outstanding fine balances of up to $100 with proof of COVID-19 vaccination. In Mississippi County, Arkansas, district Judge Catherine Dean said the county is offering $100 off fines if people show their COVID-19 vaccination cards. “It is not a ‘get out of jail card,’” she said.
I can’t be the only one who is flabbergasted by this. While I’ve learned to apply shades of gray to the circumstances surrounding us in the world in which we live, in my opinion, this is a case of right versus wrong, and these benefits to the offenders are wrong!
In July, President Joe Biden called for states to offer a $100 incentive to the newly vaccinated. I still question the morality of incentives because the vaccine is free.
I venture to guess the majority of those vaccinated before the incentive flurry did so because they felt it was the right thing to do: right for their health and that of their loved ones and community. That act of integrity is a result of people taking personal responsibility.
Let’s apply integrity and personal responsibility to our faith life. October is the month Catholics dedicate to the rosary. After completing five or more mysteries, it is customary to conclude with the Hail Holy Queen and the Rosary Prayer, which reads in part:
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
…we beseech thee, that while meditating on these mysteries of the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The last line of this beloved prayer—“that we may…imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise”—strikes me as crucial. It speaks to participation. Our affirmation of this prayer commits us to moving beyond reflection and toward responding to the call to become more like Christ, which requires exploration, understanding, and action. What motivates us to actively respond to our faith? I hope it is love for Christ, our brothers and sisters, and the Church as a whole, all connected by a strong moral compass and integrity.
What would the world look like and how would we grow—personally and communally—if we engaged these motives to other areas of our life?