Monday, June 20, 2011
“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”
W. Clement Stone
Upon my desk is plaque that reads “There is no substitute for integrity. It will guide every journey to high places.” It was a gift from a couple for my birthday last year. They are no longer a couple however, it would seem one of them was not able to fully understand the message. Their behavior has seriously damaged their reputation in the pagan community and drastically altered how people behave toward them. They are no longer perceived as having integrity. Integrity is the most important of the virtues as a social function. It seems to me that people are often willing to forgive a lack or temporary lack of any of the other virtues. Not integrity though. One “slip” of integrity and you may be marked for years as not being honorable or trustworthy. People will shun the person perceived as lacking. I have seen it happen time and again.
ADF defines Integrity as "Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence." I find this to be an excellent definition. Integrity is Honor. There is a concept our culture has lost sight of in so many ways. Integrity is more than just keeping your word to others though. It is perhaps more importantly keeping trust with one’s self. Keeping oath’s not for outward appearances but for our self’s well being. Integrity is a key stone to true self-confidence. It forms a foundation upon which self-confidence can rest comfortably. Without that foundation then one’s self-confidence can be easily toppled and crushed. What the Chinese would call a “paper tiger”. It looks fierce but has no real substance. This country is full of them.
I find my integrity challenged almost daily; especially at my job. I work in a convalescent hospital, most of the patients are elderly with various stages of dementia. Sadly because we are asked to take care of so many patients we are sometimes forced to cut corners to keep on schedule. Little things, like not brushing their teeth before bed, or that they don’t get the option to shower ever day, but only once every three days; that they are being crammed three to a room that was designed to only hold two. We CNAs do the very best care we can, but it’s a constant balancing act between what we want and need to do vs. the amount of time we have before we have to go off shift. I find this a constant struggle as it is often tempting to cut more and more corners to save time, to make the job easier. We are often alone in the room with the patient, who would know? I would know, and doing the job knowing I didn’t do my best would undermine my self-confidence and self esteem. It would leave me feeling sick in my stomach.
As I was thinking about integrity, and wondering if I had it, I reached in my wallet and pulled out the money a friend gave me for the Druidpaloza camp out. It occurred to me that he never even blinked an eye at giving me the money. He trusted me completely knowing that I would do the right thing with the money. In that moment I realized that I did have integrity, and at least the people who trusted me with their money think so.