Another Illinois politician is in the headlines. One month after the world was focused on the celebration of a newly elected president right here in Chicago, the press is back in town investigating the criminal allegations against our governor.

I'll let you in on a little secret. Here in Illinois, coupled with the disgust, is an inverse sense of pride at the history of our elected officials' audacity. After all, the previous governor of Illinois is currently serving time in a Federal Penitentiary; he's the third Illinois Governor to do so, while the current governor seems destined to be number four.

At the time of the last governor's sentencing we were told that it sent a strong message that the era of corruption was over. A lot of good that did. (And for the partisans out there, the last governor was a Republican and the current a Democrat.)

So the upshot is: "That's the way it was, is and forever will be; we might as well laugh at it." It's just a contest to see who can get away with the most, for the longest, because after all, "everybody does it."

Is that indeed so? Are we to resign ourselves to eternal dishonesty; winking and chuckling at the impudence of our leadership?

And on a more personal note, how about the "government" of our character? How's it to conduct its business? I'm referring to the internal perpetual battle within each of us between the competing powers of good and evil—are we to expect failure? And then dismiss it as inevitable because after all, the argument goes, that's just the way it is?

In his classic work of chassidic teaching, the Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad, describes a completely different reality. Rabbi Schneur Zalman makes the argument that sin, failure and disappointment is bizarre and unreasonable.

He quotes King Solomon's description of the dominance of light over darkness as a model of the supremacy of the G‑dly soul over the instinctual self-centered animal soul. By law of nature, evil should melt away when confronted by goodness, just as darkness vanishes when light is introduced. In fact, due to the G‑dly soul's inside track, Tanya is forced to explain how the animal soul ever scores a victory. (In short, it has to do with clever trickery—the animal soul hoodwinking a person into believing that the act he or she is about to do isn't so awful after all...)

And it is this question, perhaps more than the intricate answer, that is so key to achieving success. When we reshape our attitude to be stunned by sinning, we have adopted G‑d's perspective. We should expect constant and continuous success. Struggle will always be present, yet challenge should never be misinterpreted as surrender, or tolerance for disregard for our mission.

So while power may go to your head, it need not manifest itself in corrupt behavior; we can, and therefore we must, resist every temptation that plagues us.

On a similar note, 2,000 years of exile threaten to condition us to expect it to continue forever, to resign ourselves to eternal disappointment. We don't want to be disappointed any more, so we learn to expect it.

The message of Rabbi Schneur Zalman is the message of geulah, redemption. The world can be a great place to be, nice guys don't have to finish last. Despite our personal history we can and will end the culture of corruption and create an ethical society and make the world a G‑dly place.