Choosing to have integrity may cost us all that we have.
Truthfulness, honesty, integrity, and other words which speak to upright living, are ones which ought to be encouraged for every human to possess. In last week’s article, the importance of integrity, being something for which we should continually strive, was the focus. The other point, and certainly no less compelling, was that while it seemingly appears to be disintegrating just about everywhere we look, endeavoring to maintain and cultivate our own was more imperative than denoting where it lacks in others. Truthfully speaking, there are complex and multifaceted issues when trying to define the true meaning of integrity.
The dictionary uses terms such as “having strong moral principles” and “moral uprightness,” and the moment the word “moral” is introduced into the conversation, there is no way to continue without raising red flags or opening the proverbial can of worms. My intentions are never to be construed as a commentary on what is right or wrong, or even moral or immoral. I have no desire to induce, encourage, or even prove that my perspective ought to be anyone’s sole criteria.
Nevertheless, there are some acts that uncategorically signify the nature of true integrity.
When a person puts his or her own well being at risk for the sake of others’ rights and dignity, that is an act of living on moral principle. When a person’s fortune or reputation is jeopardized or sacrificed for the virtue and respect of another human, is there a higher bar to meet?
Two subjects that are always controversial are religion and politics; both of which have histories of demonizing and vilifying their opponents. However, when others stand up against their own religion in defense of what is perceived as a moral flaw in spite of the inevitable consequences, that takes courage as well as integrity. Going against the partisan ideals of your political cohorts in an effort not to trample the oppressed and downtrodden – knowing their future reputation is at stake – this takes a sense of fairness along with integrity. What both of these examples share is a humanitarian principle and concern for the welfare and good of someone else.
On rare occasions, I’ve been accused of impropriety merely for trying to help others. It’s disheartening. I often wish there was another opportunity to explain and make my intentions known but none have ever occurred. I cannot change what happened but I can learn from those moments to minimize them from occurring in future situations.
I know in my own heart what my true intentions are. My purpose for being on this planet will not be deterred by anyone’s accusations or actions. And, if during the course of my journey everything is taken from me, I’ll begin anew with the same optimism and enthusiasm which I share today.
It would not be fair to define my above statement as one of integrity since I have not found myself back at square one, and truthfully speaking, hope I never do. However, I am willing to take that risk daily if that’s what’s needed to help others.
Perhaps you or someone you know have lost everything because of choosing to have integrity. While I would not wish that on anyone – especially in the defense of others – ask yourself, would you make that choice? I’m not sure if there is a more sincere way of showing it.