All week long I have been working on ideas for this Saturday’s article. I began writing on the MMR vaccine, but the motivation I had for it dwindled fast. Then I started one on the political lobbying of Planned Parenthood and how it compared to that of the NRA. However, when I was nearly finished with it I realized there were discrepancies in the numbers I had found. Those discrepancies, and my failure to find reliable numbers, compromised the integrity of that article. Therefore, I scrapped it. At that point it was Friday afternoon and I was feeling quite drained, then it hit me, why not right about integrity? After all, there are many signs in America that integrity is becoming a thing of the past. Just look at our two major political parties, lies and half-truths are constantly bandied about in an effort to sway public opinion. We have sports stars claiming they “deserve everything” despite their sport being team-centric. There is also the issue of fake hate crimes, which seem to be all the rage these days. Then we have seemingly smaller issues such as dog owners refusing to obey leash laws. So, considering all of that, I have decided that integrity with my topic of the week.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines integrity as the “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” I find this definition to be suitably correct, but I prefer to think of a more simple, plain meaning. I have always thought of integrity as the willingness to do what is good and honest, despite whether or not anyone is watching. A good example is whether or not to speed when no one else is on the road. A person with integrity will still follow the speed limit even though it appears no one is there to hold them accountable to it. Now that a clear idea of what integrity is has been established, let’s move on to the next part.
Many people would consider themselves to be fairly honest, but are they really? How many of us have exaggerated the truth when our doctor asks us what our diet is like or about how much exercise we get? My guess would be the majority of people, including myself. Have you ever lied to a teacher about your homework? I know I have. Or perhaps when your son has asked you to play catch you claimed to be busy when you really weren’t? How many of you have pushed off leaving for work and ended up arriving late? Furthermore, how many of you accepted a full day of pay when you arrived late? Have you ever knowingly sped or rolled through a stop sign? These may all seem like small, petty examples. However, these are the things that matter most because they are what get us locked into a habit. It is my belief that if we give into the temptation to tell a “white lie” or to fudge the truth a little bit, then we will inevitably tell more lies or perhaps bigger lies. Have you ever told a lie and then later wondered why, or perhaps thought “wow, I never thought I would lie about that?” More than likely, we have all had a few of those moments, and those moments of clarity are when we should take a look at how we have been living our lives. It just might be that we have fallen into a cycle of dishonesty, thus compromising our integrity. But, what do we do if we find ourselves in this situation?
The first thing we should do is come clean to God and plead for His forgiveness. Then we need to tell the truth to those we have lied to while also apologizing and asking for their forgiveness. If there is no one to apologize to, such as in the case of speeding on a lonely road, then perhaps you should simply tell a loved one about it and let them know you want to do better in the future. A big part of positive change is accountability, and it is difficult to always be holding ourselves accountable. Therefore, it is a good idea to be talking about these things with a person you trust. That way, when you stray from your desired path and don’t realize it, they can usher you back onto it. Don’t fool yourself either, you will stray from the path. However, the most important thing is to get back on it and keep persevering. Keep in mind that integrity is a choice and is therefore possible for anyone willing to work for it.
The importance of integrity cannot be overstated, it is essential to a healthy society. Without integrity no one can be trusted and expectations can never be high. Without integrity we are simply wishy-washy, self-serving leaves on the wind. We would constantly have to look over our shoulders and be on our guard in order to protect ourselves from opportunists. We wouldn’t be able to trust that people are who they seem to be. A lack of integrity is why we can no longer seal a deal with a handshake. In fact, a handshake has now been relegated to nothing more than a symbol of greeting or goodwill. Gone are the days when it meant an unbreakable promise, honor. Our nation is in sore need of an injection of integrity, but it hasn’t completely died out yet. I just had my roof re-shingled and there is a portion of my roof that I never get on because the pitch is too steep. I selected a roofing company with an excellent reputation so that I could have as much assurance as possible that the job was done right. I felt comfortable enough with them that I didn’t need to go over every inch of the work they did. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fool, I got up there and checked on what I could. Yet, knowing their reputation and seeing the quality of the work, I believe they did the job right everywhere. That is one of the many benefits of integrity. It allows you to trust people.
When I think of integrity I can’t help but think of Jesus Christ. He is a man that stuck to what was right no matter what was thrown at him. He is unchanging, reliable, and we always know where He stands. In Luke 4:1-13 His loyalty is pursued by Satan himself, the Great Deceiver, the King of Lies. However, Jesus always kept what was good and right at the center of His mind. Despite His body being ravishingly hungry and weary to the bone, He maintained His integrity. Now, I am no Jesus Christ, but He is in my corner. All I have to do is call on Him and trust that He is there with me, and I can be a man of integrity as well.
I will leave you with this thought, if a building lacks structural integrity it collapses. Well, the same can be said of society.
If you enjoyed this article or have any comments to make, whether negative or positive, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. I read every comment and respond whenever necessary. Thank you for reading, I wish you the best.