Integrity is a quality that is hard to describe at times, but we recognize it when we see it. Integrity is a prized possession that if lost, is exceptionally difficult to regain. The word integrity and the word integer are related. An integer is a whole number. 1, 2, 8, 43, 659, but not 6 1/2 or 8.3459. There is no partiality in an integer. It is whole, complete. There is no duplicity in it.
Also related is the word integral. Something that is integral is necessary to make a whole complete. If there is something deficient in a person’s character, then that person lacks integrity. For example, if a person is deceptive and dishonest, then that person lacks integrity. Truth and honesty are integral to a person’s integrity. It would not be whole, or complete, without them.
Integrity itself is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principals; moral uprightness. It’s about who you are when no one is looking or listening. These characteristics are not necessarily native to the human condition. They are greatly admired, and obviously should be pursued, but all things being equal, if pushed to extremes, the natural man will break social mores to survive, if not to receive a moment of pleasure. There are exceptions, but the exceptions are few.
However I am not just speaking of the natural man. I also speak of those who are touched by the supernatural. No, I am not speaking of superheroes, or aliens, or psychics, etc. I’m speaking of above the realm of nature. When a person chooses to live his or her life in such a way that they rely on resources beyond their physical selves, they can tap into what I call A Supernatural Force. This requires an entire blog post to explain. But in a recent post I’ve written about the power that comes from spiritual transformation. These two powers are one and the same. When we choose to rest in the grace of God, and align our thinking and our emotions to His will, then our willful actions have the potential to reflect integrity.
Acting with integrity is not necessarily easy. Sometimes it is not cost effective. A business acts with integrity when they declare a recall in order to prevent injury and even save lives. Integrity is usually in the details. A person doing their taxes acts with integrity when they choose to not cheat even in the small details. But there is a reward to integrity – it builds your trustworthiness. And trust is a form of social capital that allows you to influence others. Trust, respect, and love are three of the characteristics needed to “change” someone.
Integrity is built one choice at a time. And one test at a time. And one temptation at a time. And one confrontation at a time. We don’t come out of the womb with integrity. Innocence, yes. But not integrity. It is a characteristic that is nurtured in our youth by responsible parents, family members, teachers, and other citizens. It is then maintained by responsible decision making. It is sharpened by the accountability of others in the trenches of day to day corroboration. And it is the foundation of a society that endeavors to progress forward. Your completeness and wholeness as a human being is integral to the world. Without it, we all suffer.