Posted by: 2thdocbob | 11 September 2017

Maintain Your Personal Structural Integrity


A heartbreaking moment in my life occurred sixteen years ago today on September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, causing them to collapse.

This was particularly painful to me, because when these towers were being built, I wanted to be an architect. I had just read Frank Lloyd Wright’s “The Story of the Tower,” when I became aware of the construction of these two great buildings.

I was fascinated watching pictures and reading accounts of the construction in Life Magazine and elsewhere. I never visited them, but I loved these towers.


Construction began for the World Trade Center in March 1966. The towers were topped off in December 1970, and they were dedicated in April 1973. I remember Philippe Petit walking the cable between the towers in 1974. We talked about that at school for days.


Their design and construction were unique at the time, and they became landmarks in the iconic New York skyline. They withstood a bombing in 1993, and resisted significant storms over the years.

The towers stood for over 31 years because of structural integrity; then, in the space of a few hours, they collapsed because their integrity had been disastrously compromised.


In the past two weeks, we have watched as the forces of nature compromised the integrity of many structures. Torrential rains, intense winds, and floodwaters combine to destroy the integrity of many structures. Earthquakes in other areas select the buildings that are compromised, either through design or neglect.

Architect David Allan Coe said: It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”[i]

It recalls the words of Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it”[ii].

The house that was built on a solid foundation stood firm.[iii]


Like the twin towers, we also stand or fall because of our integrity. Integrity fortifies us against the storms of life in a challenging world.

Like the wise man, we, too must build on a solid foundation. The solid, bedrock foundation of beliefs that undergirds our core values provides support in spite of storms and floods.


Integrity is built upon the foundation of our core values. If our core values are built on bedrock, the structural integrity of our lives will not be compromised, and we will not crumble under the onslaught of a serious storm.

Unlike the twin towers, our own integrity is never catastrophically compromised; rather, it happens little by little. Most commonly, poor choices allow our integrity to be eroded a little at a time until the foundation or the core of our moral structure can no longer support us.[iv]


Each individual should ask himself of herself these questions:

  1. Can you define your bedrock beliefs?
  2. Can you identify your core values?
  3. Do you have a personal core value statement?

And after these questions have been answered, then some equally important questions:

  1. Do you regularly review these foundational beliefs and core values?
  2. Are you true to these beliefs and values?
  3. Have you made choices that weaken your foundation or your core?

If we would avoid a tragic personal collapse, it is imperative that we identify and strengthen both our bedrock foundation, and our structural core. We must choose sound principles over the “cult of personality” and the fads and crazes of the self-improvement industry.

Moral values are not popular in our society. Standards of morality, and even standards of scholarship, of history and science are under attack. A society that persists in devaluing standards and moral values will, just like the individuals that make up the society, and just like these buildings, small and large, lose its structural integrity and suffer a disastrous collapse.

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.[v]

Stand firm, my friends!

I add in parting that the many skyscrapers in Chicago also have structural integrity.
The last time I stayed in Chicago, I found this note on my pillow:Wind warning

I experienced the creaking that night as a cold storm blew in from the north. It was just a little comforting to know that from my 26th floor room, the creaking and swaying was normal. I kept the card.


[ii] KJV, Matthew 7:24-27

[iii] It is important to remember that the first delay in construction on the World Trade Center came because the bedrock in that part of Manhattan was many feet deeper than first anticipated. The towers, too were “built upon the rock.”

[iv] Richard Nixon provided a highly visible example of this. See for a discussion of this from Elder D. Todd Christofferson, who was Judge Sirica’s law clerk when the extent of the scandal came to light. His comments (and you can download the text of his speech at the bottom of the news release) describe this.

[v] Attributed to many, but the origin is uncertain.

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