is a reflection of our self-respect,
and that personal integrity is all about taking
personal responsibility for our future,
the way we live
and, to the extent we can,
for the whole world in which we live.
This morning’s thoughts about integrity tie into my birthday post as well.
I hear a lot about integrity, or lack of integrity these days, usually with respect to politicians. And we see elections that are more about what the person is perceived to be instead of issues.
No matter our politics, the worthy causes we believe in and support..do I really want to be led, followed or assisted by people who lack integrity? People who I can not trust, whose motives are questionable. People who might at any moment toss aside everything I thought I had in common and march off in a different direction, leaving me behind…
So – what does integrity mean in the long run:
Linguistically, integrity comes from one of those very basic concrete Indo-European roots with a large number of fanciful metaphoric derivatives. “Tag” means to touch, as in tag, tangible, tactile, contact, etc. “In-tag,” or “untouched” means “whole” as in integer, a whole number, and by extension pure, unsullied, whole.
Now that your eyes are glazing over from all that – what does all that mean in real life?
As I’ve thought about these postings, I have come to believe that a person of integrity is a whole person, a person somehow undivided. I am not talking the single-mindedness or the frenzy of a fanatic who is determined that the world will be as they say … in a single mold. This is far removed from the my-way-or-no-way that some people seem to inspire. The person of integrity is confident in the knowledge they are living rightly…and, as far as possible, rightly with those around them.
I want to be a person people can trust to do right, to play by the rules, to keep commitments. Even when I disagree with someone I can sense the integrity within and can admire it. I want to be a person that what I say I will do, I do. The kind of person who expects the best from those around me, and will do anything to help them get there.
That kind of integrity, I’ve been discovering is very much a foundation of life. . It makes a lot of other parts of life to be expressed, openly and honestly. Several writers define acting with integrity this way:
1. discerning what is right and what is wrong,
2. acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and
3. saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong.
Discernment is the first crucial step…and is not a simple, mechanical process. After all, people of integrity can come to different conclusions about what is right. I must pay attention to the world around me and to my own conscience. But my conscience must be informed, by the human condition and experience and a sense of rightness that comes from beyond and within. You have also to consider what others think, and search out the right balance between reason and wisdom.
Stuart Hampshire asks: “If a person has lived a blameless life according to his lights,” as the saying goes, the question always arises — “Were his lights good enough, or could they have been better.“
For some, those lights are spiritual in nature. According to the Jewish sage Maimonides: “Everything that you do, do for the sake of God.” However, there is a secular view as well: Professor W. S. Taylor (1857): “Integrity implies implicit obedience to the dictates of conscience — in other words, a heart and life habitually controlled by a sense of duty.” (Regardless of Taylor’s spiritual stance, he definitely is one of those people who spell God with two “O’s.”)
more on this tomorrow night
Choose your words, for they become actions.
Understand your actions, for they become habits.
Study your habits, for they will become your character.
Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.