What is integrity? It is a word that has been bandied about a lot recently during our National process of choosing leaders to be elected to the highest Political Offices of our Country. Who has integrity? Who does not have integrity? Is integrity in our Politicians a good trait? A bad trait? An impossible trait? Who is to say whether any certain Candidate or any person, for that matter, has integrity or not? Can a person have integrity on one issue and not have integrity on another issue and still have Integrity?
So many questions. Not such easy answers.
Let’s have a look at the word Integrity.
In discussions on behavior and morality, one view of the property of integrity sees it as the virtue of basing actions on an internally-consistent framework of principles.
This scenario may emphasize depth of principles and adherence of each level to the next. One can describe a person as having integrity to the extent that everything that that person does derives from the same core set of values. While those values may change, their consistency with each other and with the person’s actions determine the person’s degree of integrity.
Considering this description of Integrity, an Internally-consistant framework of principles would have to be viewed as a trait belonging to an individual. Therefore, MY degree of integrity to MYSELF may be close too 100% if I stick to my internal principles at all times. However, someone other than myself might see me as not having integrity because they do not understand my internal set of principles and therefore only have the ability to judge me by my words and actions.
Also, while my values and beliefs may change over time, if there is complete consistancy between those changes and my actions, even though I am no longer backing my previous set of values due to simply changing my mind, am I still acting with complete integrity?
Let me try to create an analogy here to help explain that idea.
Just one week ago today, my internal principles included a set of values that caused me, being a person of integrity, to uphold the ideal of “My country, right or wrong.” I truly believed and acted upon that simple FACT. Although it may not be a FACT to you, it was to me. My country, I surmised, of course made mistakes. However the good my country did overall was so much more substantive than any mistakes it might make AND if it did make any mistakes, they were never made with a negative result as the intended conclusion.
I discussed this very issue with an aquaintance that disagreed with me, however my answer was always the same, as I KNEW this was the right answer and no matter the persuasion, my integrity would not allow me to stray from my core principles.
Over the past week, situations arose and information was gathered and disseminated that caused me to re-think this issue. After carefully reviewing the information and weighing the truths of the matter versus the possible untruths, I came to the conclusion that there were times when my country actually went through with actions due to whatever reasons that DID allow a negative result to be the intended conclusion of it’s actions. I now no longer could believe the concept of “My country, right or wrong.” While I had changed my position on this subject, I still considered myself to be a person of complete integrity as I was now consistant with believing my recently aquired set of principles on this issue.
I discussed this very issue with the same aquaintance after I had this eye opening experience, and the person was quite amazed that I now agreed with them after being so very much opposed to their point of view only one week earlier. Yet, I absolutely KNEW this was now the right answer and my integrity could not allow me to back my previous position any longer.
My aquaintance walked away thinking I had no integrity. That I was in fact, in the current vernacular of the day, a big ol’ Flip-Flopper.
My question to you is this. Is integrity based on personal honesty and acting on one’s beliefs and values at all times, or is it something else, altogether?
What do YOU believe?