Recently, in one of those introspective moments where you question what you think, and your views about life, I thought about the things that I think are essential in life. Love certainly, hope, good health for sure, and it occurred to me that forgiveness is also essential, the ability to forgive others (and not carry bitterness or anger or resentment with you—-SUCH heavy burdens!!), and the blessing of being forgiven our mistakes is nice too. But one thing leapt out at me on my ‘can’t do without’ list: integrity. Yeah, sure, we say, of course, obviously. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Integrity isn’t always so obvious to others, and not always the obvious choice. I’ve learned that the hard way. And integrity isn’t a ‘whatever’, it is absolutely essential to the quality of our lives, our dealings with others, it is a basic expectation and need, like air. I think people have it or they don’t, and it has been a hard lesson for me to discover that some people we assume have integrity, actually don’t. Their morality, values, and sense of integrity may be completely different from our own, or even minimum standards that apply to us all. It’s a huge shock to discover that. I think it has to be woven into the fiber of our beings, it has to be an automatic, like breathing, not something we put on and take off like a hat.
Integrity can be difficult sometimes, painful, costly. It’s frequently not the easier choice, but the harder one. MUCH harder sometimes. But I think it has to be a given, not a choice. Dealing with people who don’t have integrity is painful, shocking sometimes, and it can create a huge chasm between you, if you have integrity and they don’t.
Having dealt with both kinds of people, professionally and privately, those who have integrity and those who don’t, I can tell you that I don’t want to deal with those who don’t have integrity anymore. You pay a terrible, high price for it every time. It’s not something you can compromise on, or shave a little bit off, or have integrity about ‘almost everything’ and leave a few things out. It has to be straight across the board, something they don’t even need to discuss, they just need to do it, be it, act it, live it…..and if they don’t, they will disappoint or hurt you every time, or worse. It’s not a variable, it really is an essential, and every bit as important as love and hope.
We’ve all bent the truth at times, and told ‘little white lies’, about why we’re cancelling a date, or about liking their dress when we don’t, so as not to hurt people’s feelings. That’s about kindness, rather than flat out saying ‘Ohhh Yergk, where did you get that awful dress?” But real truth is so important, and honesty, and integrity—–even when you think people won’t know which choice you made. The choice that is motivated by integrity is the right one every time, and I for one no longer want to be the victim, or even the friend or associate, of someone who doesn’t have it. There is no room in my life anymore for people who don’t have integrity. It’s something I just can’t do without, like air.