Integrity: part 1

Posted on April 25, 2007. Filed under: Interesting Links, Quotes, Shared Experience, Uncategorized |

Integrity was described to me once as “always doing the right thing. Even when nobody’s watching.” My first experience with the word integrity came from reading the Charles Dickens classic “Great Expectations” in middle school. The protagonist (Pip) is characterized as having integrity. I had no idea what this word meant at the time. So, I looked it up, thought what a great concept it was and then never thought about it in depth until college.

Many would argue that it is still a simple concept, and it can be with much practice. Still, it is curious that so many people would devote so much time to studying this particular human trait if it were so simple. I believe that integrity is in such short supply that many in our society seek a way to cultivate it in themselves and others. Many think that they have or exhibit integrity, when they actually don’t. Not completely. They don’t commit heinous crimes or cheat or steel. But do they really have integrity? For some it’s a matter of ignorance, and for others a matter of self deception. For me it was a little of both until I reached my early 20’s. I realized that I wasn’t putting my best foot forward in every situation, and sought to change that.

This is where opportunity emerges in the debate. Opportunity comes in many forms. But for our purposes, let us suppose it is an easy way out. This could be anything: breaking promises, not returning money when you were given too much change, or knocking over a grocery display and quietly walking away. Obviously these could be considered small infractions, but do we really keep a running total? And if we did, how high would that tab be? Those are the questions I posed to myself a few years back and I decided my personal total was too high.

“A man should be upright, not be kept upright. ”
Marcus Aurelius

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