Over my 61 years, I have heard or read about numerous, contemporary scandals and cover-ups of scandals. One U.S. president, a recent UK primer minister, numerous CEOs, university deans, athletic coaches, Catholic Church Cardinals and so many others have resigned from their positions accordingly. Some did so to avoid or minimize legal, political and financial consequences. But I like to believe that most others did so to preserve the honor of the church, business, university or other institution. Such resignations open a way for needed reform and in some cases healing, although these can be long, drawn-out processes.
Just yesterday, a college football coach resigned over some apparently hurtful language. I do not know the whole story and am uncertain whether this incident really warranted his resignation. But I respect his integrity and decision in which he put the honor and reputation of the university and its football program above his own career.
No, I am not calling on any LDS leaders to resign over the sex abuse coverup scandal. But I would hope that they would give this option some prayerful consideration.
… all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops. Mormon 5:8
Nearly All Men Can Stand Adversity, But If You Want To Test a Man’s Character, Give Him Power.
– Tom Irvine
When Brutus is defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, two years after orchestrating the
assassination of Julius Caesar, rather than run away he takes his own life. As Shakespeare
has him say: “Hold then my sword and turn away thy face/ While I do run upon it.” Finding
his body, the victor Octavian says: “Within my tent his bones tonight shall lie/ Most like a
soldier, order’d honourably.” From this tale and many others from Roman times we take the
phrase to fall on one’s sword as accepting responsibility for a calamity.
While this sounds like an archaic act of chivalry, the reason that the phrase is still with us
more than two millennia later is that there is an expectation that the person at the top of an
organisation is accountable and will take responsibility for a collective failure – even if they
are not personally to blame. While there have been some honourable examples of this, they
are outnumbered by the occasions when those at the top have hung on.
At a time when chief executives, presidents, and managing directors are remarkably well
paid, it is especially important that when something goes wrong under their command, they
accept that the buck stops with them and that they do not try to pass the blame on, or hang on
— on the basis that they are “best-placed to clean up the mess” but instead offer to resign.
The offer may not be accepted — but all the more reason to offer it before it is demanded.
— Jonathan Harris CBE, FRICS