We witness more and more national events that lack integrity, that include cheating, untruths, and cover-ups. Even concepts like “fake news” and “alternative facts” have crept into our daily lexicon. We have experts denying the importance of climate change. We turn a blind eye toward starving children in Africa and other countries. We revise standards downward as opportune.
What we see in the media makes us wonder if anything is real anymore. We see manufacturing companies try to circumvent regulations, while other companies trick us with hidden fees and “gotcha” clauses. We witness people in public positions “walk back” comments or dissemble when under scrutiny. We have even become used to top athletes using performance enhancing drugs with little concern.
So what does integrity really mean? Is it still important? Dictionaries use phrases like “honesty” and “moral standards” when trying to explain it. Some definitions emphasize adhering to ethical principles. All of these are lofty words, and easily manipulated.
Other definitions indicate that integrity is a personality trait, a personal choice. It means doing the right thing–all the time. The real question, then becomes, do you have personal integrity.? If so, can you maintain it? Are you willing to risk losing it for personal or professional gain? Is situational integrity acceptable to you (honest and ethical at some times, not at others depending on the situation).
In a world that doesn’t seem to value integrity as much as it once did, is it still important? Was it a value for your parents and grandparents? Is it a value you want to instill in your children? These are questions only you can answer.
As we become adults, we recognize the importance and utility of compromise — going along to get along. Too often today we are asked to compromise our ideals, our beliefs, even our integrity. We can redefine ideals. We can modify beliefs. Integrity, though, once compromised, can never be made whole again. It is one of your most valuable possessions. Guard it accordingly.