Choosing Integrity

 “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of the transgressors shall destroy them.” Proverbs 11.3 KJV

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like that Proverb, what about you? Though I am not big on the Bible, now and then I find a nugget I like, that is one of them.

Integrity, it does seem to be in short supply these days, whether we look at the world of business, the government or even at our personal lives. Have we all fallen short, forgotten what it means to live a life that is not just expedient, but instead is real and as the quote says, ‘upright’. I wonder, what does it mean to have integrity, to live with courage and by the courage of conviction.

I will admit, here and certainly, to myself, I have fallen short in the past. Fallen short out of fear. Fallen short because I thought I was protecting another. Fallen short because I was simply tired of fighting for my place. Fallen short because I didn’t understand what it meant to do otherwise.

I suspect we all fall short. I would also guess, those of us conscious enough to self-examine regret our fall from grace, even when the only person who knows is ourselves.

What is the test?

Do we fall short when we are afraid and thus fail to live up to our potential? Alternatively, is the real answer we simply choose expediency over integrity as the easy way through life, consequences be damned.

“Greatness lives on the edge of destruction”. Will Smith, Oprah show at 38.04 minutes

I think we fall short for a variety of reasons, some perhaps good reasons and others always terrible reasons. No matter the reason, if we have any self-awareness, we will always beat the hell out of ourselves afterwards. Perhaps we look back over our life and pinpoint those times where we choose convenience over a more difficult path, does this make us a bad person or simply average, normal. When we aspire to be more than we are, should we be held back by our past, by the stumbles we have taken?

My personal experience is fear is the biggest diversion. Fear takes many forms and places many stones in the path. Stumbling over those stones creates even greater fear, now I have stumbled; now I have lost my path and Wikimedia Imagemy place. Sometimes it is not enough to be sorry, in falling you take others with you. Sometimes losing futures, losing love and breaking dreams.

The two quotes are quite different, one says transgressors shall be destroyed, the other says we must get to the edge to be great. I think there is truth in both, to find our truth we must face down our fears and find our core, perhaps even to the edge of destruction. Once there though, once we are sure of ourselves and whole in our values, we must stop living by other people’s rules, stop fearing judgment and loss; stop choosing expediency over a life of integrity.

I think for any one of us to choose integrity all the time, we must first examine our fears, our losses and dreams. What does it mean to stand up to the crowd, to social pressure or even to a loved one’s demands? What does it mean to say “no, I will not do that”, say that or act in that manner simply to satisfy your wants when it is wrong in my heart? What does it mean to say to a boss “no”, what you are doing will cause harm to a client or is inappropriate. When we choose these things knowing it might cost us friends, loved ones or income, can we still choose? That I think is the core of both quotes is the loss better than the alternative; that I think is the choice we have to make.

We all fall short sometimes. I have certainly fallen short in my past and certainly regret those falls from grace. The odd thing is, I have also stood up and chosen the path of integrity, chosen to do the right thing, I paid for it. Now I know there is a price to pay for a fall and a price to pay for standing up. The difference is the price to pay for the fall is much higher, it is one you extract every day in self-recrimination.

I suspect many people struggle with some of these ideas. Today the world is full of so many examples of people who choose to stumble and stay down, I find it disheartening. Perhaps if more of us considered philosophically what it means to question our motives and apply integrity to our decisions and choices we would have a better world.

I leave you with my playlist for this one, it is how I was feeling as I wrote.

Oprah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N3vFeR4g9M

Counting Crows, Talks to Angels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_5U0M9ErGA

Hootie and the Blowfish, Let her Cry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aVHLL5egRY

Tracy Chapman, One Reason: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d3iWPXvErQ

Note: If you haven’t seen me visiting lately I have been sick since just before the new year. It has laid me low and I am only now getting over a beastly cold / infection. I will be back to visiting soon, hopefully I will stay out of bed long enough today to read and comment. It isn’t you it is me! 

Comments

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Re your last words – I truly hope you get better soon, Val.

    As for the piece – just fantastic. Very solid, very true. And you know, I’m not big on the Bible either, but it really does have some choice gems.

    There’s many moments for integrity. You have to deeply, deeply believe in it, whatever it is, to CARE/ACT/DO. Daniel told me last weekend when him & his mates had gone to a party, on the way Daniel noticed a cat in a lane way. They approached it, and it was mangy and looked horribly, horribly abused, Daniel said. So he rang the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and they only put him on to the council (after several press X button, press X button). He got through to the Council, and the guy on the phone seemed completely uninterested, bored. Daniel was pretty distressed because although the guy on the phone said “Yeah, we’ll come and check it out”, Daniel felt he didn’t care at all, and wouldn’t. Also, the guy on the phone said he would ring Daniel by way of follow-up, but never did. I think it took integrity for Daniel to stall them going to the party and act, but how disappointing when the guy on the phone had no integrity for his job, to follow through.

    Integrity is a challenge often, but you cannot sleep right, I don’t believe, unless you live with integrity.

  2. Integrity is an honorable trait to have. I try to live my life by it. I’d rather do nothing at all than do something that questions my integrity. I live by the rules and the law of the land and cannot fathom being any other way. Once, as a teen, I was in a candy store when my pants’ button came off. I was trying to adjust my pants so they wouldn’t fall, and the salesperson thought I was trying to sneak candy into my pocket. He led me out of the store and made me empty my pockets. Of course, he found nothing. It was mortifying to think he thought me a thief.

    • I think Monica, most of us down here in the muck hold our honor more closely. It is strange isn’t it? Having always been a bit of a rebel, well I can honestly say I have less respect for the laws of the land, having often been found on protest lines. But I have tried to live with integrity, with honor. The truth though, I like so many of us have fallen.

  3. Hope the one step back becomes another step forward soon. Get well soon.

    Now that you bring it up, I’ve noticed integrity has fallen by the wayside. I didn’t notice when. People in authority seem to have have forgotten what it is or means. It’s hard to find a good man with integrity these days in public office, public service. I’m not saying there aren’t any; they’re just hard to find.

    • I think it is hard to find anyone in positions of authority, whether public or private that can withstand scrutiny. You are right integrity has fallen by the wayside. We seem to simply not care, we giggle at the misdeeds of public figures even encouraging them to greater acts of misconduct. That mirror we hold up, it is cracked.

      Thanks Tess, I am nearly mended. Mostly mended though I seem to still need more rest than normal.

  4. I’m sorry you’ve been sick … glad you’re on the mend. you’ve been missed.

  5. Excellent post, Val! There is a lot to ponder here, but certainly I am in total agreement right off the bat. And, sometimes integrity lies in making tough choices that wouldn’t necessarily be our firsts, but that are required because of a certain time and place in our lives. This is where I find myself a lot raising my daughter on my own….Integrity in the sacrifice. I will re-read this again, my friend! Hope you are feeling better and better! XOXO-Kasey

    • I think this is the point of ‘I have fallen’, we all do and it is sometimes the hardest of things to recognize. It is the minute or second we take that step, even maybe not realizing why. It is the glancing backwards and saying dang, why did I do that?

      It isn’t always the big stuff, we can always identify that and most of us will make the right choice. Thanks Kasey, I am always so glad to see you and read what you have to say.

  6. I watched Saving Grace, loved that show. I really identified with her and her struggles. Hope you start feeling better soon!

  7. Integrity is a rare commodity – and that is an oxymoron. How can a commodity be ‘rare’?

    A tough road yes, but that’s what makes it a precious commodity – another oxymoron.

    Since 16 years old, I’ve held three jobs excluding my own businesses. At each interview, when asked what I bring to the table my reply has been along these lines – “a pocketful of enthusiasm and a heart full of integrity”. And I dare say that I’ve consistently lived by these – at great cost to my career and bank balance – but with no regrets.

    Peace and blessings,
    Eric

    • I also have tried my hardest to live by this, also all to often at great cost and no regret. I still feel I have fallen short, no I know I have fallen short at times. I regret this as well. I suspect we all have stumbled, it is I think that we have the ability to know it and correct it. Yet still I am disheartened, because as you say Eric it is a terribly rare and precious commodity.

      Val

  8. I get disheartened some days too, Val. It’s easy to do that. Integrity is not an easy road but it does pay off in the long run xx

  9. This is a very good posting Val :)

    Hey get better soon or I will have to send the Zombies round to look after you and you know what their bedside manner is like :( Now what would you like me to do? Maybe a massage will suffice, or… Hey don’t be so naughty :) Right I will add this before you say something wicked. Have fun today :)

    Andro xxxx

  10. Ah, integrity. Always a tough road to follow, and never a sure way to the destination. But anyone who walks it has my respect – like you do.

  11. I don’t have a problem with the Bible at all. If we took the principles outlined in those pages, the wisdom coming down to us from ages past, we would find those principles are just as valid today. For example I would not like to be killed or robbed so I should extend those principles to others too as their right. Respect for parents, respect for children and others also seems like a better plan than what we see reported in our news outlets today. Maybe we’ve gone too far in not teaching those principles in our schools any more. Maybe there would be less shootings, stabbings and bullying if we went back to the way we taught our kids in a previous era. Firmness and discipline is great, but only if we model it as we correct. It’s always handy to blame those in power, but we are the ones who put them there in the first place. Perhaps we can be more discerning in who we elect? But ultimately we have to blame ourselves individually for the state of our world and try what you suggest, Personal integrity!

    • Ah Ian, didn’t say I have a problem with the Bible, simply said I am not big on it. I have actually read the entire book more than once. Many of the teachings are quite good, so are many of the teachings of other great religions, which in most cases are similar.

      Personal integrity is the issue though, isn’t it? What we, as individuals do and how we act in our lives is what truly matters. Each of us, set the stake in the ground. Each of us set the example for our children. Each of us define the boundaries.

      If each of us act with personal integrity, establish definitions that make sense and are bound by true compassion, empathy and righteousness then we begin to create a better society for all. This is not a religious issue, it is human and humane issue.

  12. P.S. Great videos!

  13. Dear Val, excellent piece of writing as always! Sadly greed supersedes integrity in today’s world. I hope your feeling better real soon.

  14. It’s becoming extinct, sadly. The greater good that we can do in the world requires it, however. Nice piece here.

    • I surely hope you are not correct, I hope it is not on the endangered list. I hope it is just taking a siesta. My hope is we can resurrect it, even if it is just one person at a time.

  15. Dear Val,
    I hope you are standing tall now; done with your illness and able to get back to being you.

    I have been thinking a lot about this issue lately–integrity. Not something we see much these days. Often people don’t even know that they are choosing between doing what is right and wrong. They are too busy in the now, the future, and the impact of current events to think of what actions might mean. So discouraging.

    • Elyse, Hi

      I am still struggling with my bed calling to me. This ‘cold’ knocked me about a bit. Each time I think it is done with me it hits me upside the head and says not quite yet. But I am getting there.

      Many people are considering the issue of integrity lately. Just after I pushed the publish button I also started reading, I found a couple of others had written along the same vein. Integrity, doing the right thing; it is certainly something in short supply isn’t it? Yet, it is something we need infused in so many if we are too survive; as a nation, a people or even in our personal lives.

      You are right, so discouraging.

  16. Val integrity is in short supply. I think people always do what they want to do. For a person like you the high road is your default path. I think it just comes down to scruples. When we get to the fork in the road i think there is many times no write or wrong answer. We just have to say wich way is going to be the easiest decision to live with. because whether it turns out right or wrong we will have to live with any decision we make.

    This was amazing and thought proviking Val. I am very glad i did not miss this

    • Tom, I am glad you liked this one and didn’t miss it. I suspect you are right, people do what they want, but living with conscious thought and, as you say scruples is important. Sometimes there is not perfect ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, this is when we have to find the best answer for us as individuals. I think this is when integrity comes into play, the high road, well I think we all stumble.

  17. Brilliant, insightful, amazing piece.

    Integrity is a POWERUL word. This is the reason I married Mr. L. This is what I look for in others. This is what will transform the universe.

    I lOOOooooove you more than Dove chocolate. Xxx

    • I agree, it is a powerful word. It is also a very difficult concept. I think we all look for it in others, first though we have to seek it in ourselves and honestly point where we fall short. We all fall sometimes. I agree, this is what will transform the universe.

      Love you right back more than dark choclate. XX

  18. I never watched Saving Grace and I’ve never heard that song. I enjoyed the video and the theme. Hope you feel better soon.

  19. My sister, we are treading the same boards. This is a discussion ongoing at the moment. I love what you have written, and your playlist contains some of my favorites. Since the Hootie song came out, it is one I sing loud and proud in my truck… even when the windows are down.

    I think the two quotes are connected. To my mind’s eye, the edge of destruction is the moment of choice. What we do when we stand on the precipice is ever so important. It is where I learned to fly.

    I love you.
    xxx

  20. Feel better soon, Val.

  21. Interesting that for you fear can get in the way of integrity, as I’d say the same about me. I think fear motivates me more than I’d like to admit.

    Hope you are feeling better soon, dear Val. Take care of yourself and don’t worry about reading blogs until you feel better. I miss you, but I’ll still be around when you are well again.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • Thanks Kathy. I do finally feel better. Actually up and about without tipping over on my face. So today I am catching up on reading, housework and other stuff.

      I suspect fear is one of the greatest motivators for many of us. Greed being the next one, but far fewer of us have greed in our cross-hair than fear.

      Hugs back at you, as always.

      Val

  22. Integrity might just be the watch word for the week, as I wrote about it yesterday.

    “Now I know there is a price to pay for a fall and a price to pay for standing up. The difference is the price to pay for the fall is much higher, it is one you extract every day in self-recrimination.”

    Just perfect! Thanks for getting up and putting this out there. Hope you feel better soon!

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