“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” – Zig Ziglar
A person of integrity never compromises on the truth, no matter how hard that task is. We associate a person of integrity with one who is honest. The Merriam- Webster’s dictionary defines integrity as the “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values”; https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity.
I Need a Hero
I give you yet another way of seeing integrity. This is my own take on things. Integrity is the stuff of our favorite superhero movies. It gives us goose bumps when our hero triumphs because he (/she as the case may be) does the right thing. And he acknowledges his errors at the risk of losing the temporary trust of the people around him but wants to be honest and honorable. Our hero comes clean and does better the next time. The hero sincerely does his best. He triumphs, with integrity.
Think of our Marvel heroes or DC Comics or StarWars heroes. We clearly understand what the dark side is in those scenarios. We weep with real feeling when our heroes are defeated or are drawn to the dark side. And a happy and hopeful ending in a movie or show is when good prevails and evil is defeated, despite the struggles of the hero before the story ends.
Is There Hope?
Lately, I have been feeling less than hopeful about our real-world leaders and role models. Why do we watch superhero movies and root for the guy who has the most integrity? Why do we tell stories of people who retained their integrity through the most trying of situations and then turn around and accept the opposite from real people? I wonder if we have forgotten what real integrity is.
Have we wasted our time showing our children what real heroes look like in books and stories? Are we lying to the next generation about what integrity, honor and strength look like? Make no mistake. Our children are watching us. They model themselves on what we do, not just what we say. Are we being honest and displaying integrity, when we make excuses for dishonesty and for the lack of integrity in people?
Is This Real Life?
We need to ask ourselves, if we think people who lie all the time for their own benefit are good role-models. Do we really want our children to model themselves on people who cannot be trusted, who are not honest and will say or do anything to win a deal or achieve ‘success’ ? How do we intertwine the concepts of truth and justice so that lies and dishonesty can never be part of the equation?
Modern society has attempted to sideline this character trait in order to promote other traits. Indeed, the emergence of pockets of less than ideal conduct seeks to further dilute this major pillar of human character. For example, endorsing white lies and accepting loose-lipped salesmanship, as a necessary evil of living in the modern world, only serves to further blur the lines of right and wrong conduct. I confess I have not really condemned such behaviors.
Return of the Integrity Story
What do we crave in this turbulent and morally-challenged world? I, for one, crave certainty and miss having a reliable hero. I miss real-life leaders who always keep their word and can be trusted. Look at Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, both past presidents of the United States, with incredible records of integrity. Abraham Lincoln said, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” Also, Theodore Roosevelt said, “No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.”
It is time to return to the light, the light of self-realization. It is time that we make no more compromises on our real-life heroes, on the real world leaders we support. Our role models must be honest and true and full of integrity. We must set an honest, unequivocal example. Our children are watching us.
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” –Abraham Lincoln