Digging Deeper Into Integrity ~ Early Morning Thoughts

As I’ve thought about integrity and honesty. I realized that I have to order what I consider to be my core values – and it’s no accident that I should list integrity first (by the way, that’s where the Air Force Academy places it). Integrity for me, is where all my other values will fall or stand. Without integrity my reasons for doing anything can justifiably be questioned – and doubted. Without integrity my personal quest of excellence also comes under a cloud.

Some time ago, I read that integrity is the willingness to do what’s right even when no one is looking. Without someone around, I may feel it acceptable to do whatever I want, how I want – without any concern about consequence. Of course, there still are consequences for actions – but the result might not be all that public, at first. But – as some major leaders have discovered, failure to have integrity in private can be exposed in public. But, to hold onto my values – no matter what the situation, is integrity in action.

But this also isn’t a full definition of integrity. If I turn again to the dictionary: “uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” As I’ve said before, integrity defined this way is controlling. It implies following standards set by only by others. This also leads to the acrimonious discussions of almost any subject currently being debated. Even between people who should be somewhat in agreement, the arguments become almost self-serving and divisive. It implies that whatever I hold absolute, everyone else should. And without going into detail, we call can think of serious incidents, decisions and problems that have resulted in situations that never should have happened. Or, shouldn’t have happened the way they did if people were working in TRUE integrity.

An addition to the definition could be “the state of being whole and your true self”. Which could mean – standing against the “crowd” to hold onto what I believe to be right. So, going back to the comment above – integrity is not only doing what’s right when no one is looking, but doing what’s right when other people are watching.

My reactions have to be based on what is true, not fantasy, and I have to make commitments based on my vision or purpose. In short, my life has to be aligned with the big picture. Being responsible is handling whatever comes along and making adjustments so problems don’t repeat themselves. Responsibility and integrity is not about blame.

Far more difficult than knowing what is right is doing what is right. Doing the right thing is not always easy, but it is always right.
–George S. May (founder of the May Company)

This quote gets at the real meaning of integrity. When doing right thing starts to be in conflict with the easy way, or is at “odds” with “the way we’ve always done it,” is when our integrity is confronted. My integrity is really called upon when doing the “right thing” makes me subject to criticism, ridicule, or second guessing.

But it struck me, that this kind of integrity is extremely personal. I do not have to require MY integrity of someone else – only that they follow their integrity.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Core values on paper are nice, but without putting those values into action they are nothing more than words. Dr. King’s quote highlights the purpose of having core values, which is to use those values to shape my decisions and actions. And because of the “big picture” I avoid the my-way-only type of reaction or decisions.

more to come on this

I’m grateful for a friend explaining
the Air Force Academy code

Martin Luther King ~

This is a holiday in the US to remember a great man and his great words:

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Strength to Love, 1963

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

With those powerful words ringing – one would think that everyone would work together for the common good. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Here is Houston there has been a parade honoring the late Dr. King. for a number of years. Over the last several years it has been marked by hostility, anger and law suits by two competing organizations for the honor of having “THE” parade. These were organizations that worked together until an unfortunate split. There has been so much trouble over that last several years that this year the city council trying to play Solomon put together an ordinance limiting the city to one parade per day. This made sense considering all the city ends up paying to protect parades, re-locate traffic (this is downtown Houston remember) and police along the route. Rather than getting the organizers to work together (no surprise here), it caused the ACLU to get involved and the law suits began. To which I add, all this shows how far we still have to go to reach Martin Luther Kings dream.

From the Houston Chronicle is an article by Geroyal Jackson, a junior at Jack Yates High School, with his reaction to the entire parade situation.

Forty-four years ago, the great Martin Luther King Jr. sparked a huge change in the world when he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Today, it has been nearly 40 years since his 1968 assassination, and although the world is starkly different than it was in 1963, our world still has leaps and bounds to go before we can earnestly even attempt to say that we’ve achieved his “dream.”

Case in point: Two Houston organizations that are both supposed to be devoted to King’s message and legacy have made news and smeared the civil rights leader’s image — and all in his name.

The controversy stems from Houston’s MLK Parade, which for years was a single parade conducted by the Black Heritage Society, chaired by Ovide Dun- cantell and Charles Stamps. That is, until Stamps split from Duncantell in the mid-’90s to form the MLK Parade Foundation and through it, the MLK Grande Parade, bringing two MLK parades to the downtown area on the same day.

Ever since then, the parades and their backers have been feuding, resulting in the creation of a parade law that prevents two downtown parades on the same day. City lawyers say the ordinance allows police and traffic officials to protect mobility and public safety, and that allowing two parades downtown on the same day would strain resources — especially with an increasing residential population downtown.

So, with only one parade allowed, both organizations were forced to vie for a permit for the Big Day. When Duncantell and the Black Heritage Society were denied the permit in favor of his old foe, Stamps and the MLK Parade Foundation, Duncantell took the dispute to court and filed a civil rights lawsuit against Mayor Bill White and city Public Works Director Michael Marcotte, calling the parade law “unconstitutional.”

For now, the dispute has been temporarily settled by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, who allowed both parades to take place downtown, but the Black Heritage Society’s will take place in the afternoon while the MLK Parade Foundation’s takes place in the morning.

The whole matter has been disgusting to view. Here we have two people and their organizations fighting over the right to have an event to honor a man who was all about peace. Honestly, is the feud about honoring King’s legacy or besting an old rival?

These two men and their organizations are behaving like children and disgracing everything King stood for.

What would King say? Would he be proud of this trifling feud that’s taking place in his name? Would he choose a side? Would he applaud them for embarrassing themselves, his legacy and our people for their own egos?

No, he would not, because King was about unity and brotherhood, especially among our own people. So, while these two are tying up the legal system and making fools of themselves, they should know that they aren’t honoring the great man. They’re desecrating his memory.

So, instead of attending any MLK parade this year, I will be doing (and encouraging everyone to, as well) something that I believe honors King more: joining in the silent march down MLK Boulevard on Saturday, because as this whole feud has clearly demonstrated, sometimes the best course of action is silent.