It was an interesting day today. As I was traveling around getting errands done, I decided to conduct a kind of “man on the street” questionnaire. I would simply ask “what do you think integrity is or means.” Sometimes I got nothing more than silence and/or a shrug. One person said simple “truth.” When I asked what that meant – all she would say was “truth.” Another added “doing what you say you’ll do.” Another answer was “whatever politicians are not.” (that caused general chuckles from those around. But it was my stop, and I didn’t have time to pursue that answer.)
The most troubling to me were three students. All three admitted they had no idea what integrity was. That answer brought me up short. I realized if someone doesn’t have their own definition of integrity – they will never realized the lack of it and what can happen if it is missing.
Living with a definition of integrity, allows a strong sense of moral/ethical outlook. This has a tremendous advantages. If/when things get difficult or adversarial – I have something to hang onto. I don’t need to get desperate. Without it (personal experience here) I start to do things I wouldn’t do, I become someone I am not – and try to convince those around that I’m that different person. I lose my sense of balance, and begin to make decisions that have little or no basis on my inner self.
With integrity, I stay the same person I am no matter what happens. No matter how awful things get I don’t become unglued. That requires inner strength. It would be nice to say that I never have a problem with inner strength. I would be lying if I said so (and probably burned by lightning from above and lava from below.)
However, when I remain with integrity I can stay more together and integrated with what I need to hang onto. In other words, I don’t fall apart so quickly. And this integrity is going to come from within. I’ve had a lot of challenges over the last year and a half. I can look back at some points with pleasure/pride at how I came through to the other side of the problem. Other moments? Not so well.
I can “beat myself up” over what didn’t go well or I can take things in hand, and grab even more strongly onto integrity and truth. I can look deep within and find the strength that I need to accomplish what is surrounding me. However, always I need to remind myself that I am responsible for my choices, and my actions. And I’m going to have to take responsibility for the result.
But I’m still troubled by the three students that didn’t what integrity was. That has caused some shivers deep within me.
more early saturday morning