I was thinking about integrity the other day. I remembered how I had written long ago in an online dating profile that I was looking for a man with integrity. (That still holds true, by the way!) Integrity and honesty are traits that I value highly, and I’m sure that the majority of people feel the same way.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines integrity as:
the firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, incorruptibility, and the quality of being honest and fair.
Society puts special trust in its leaders, especially leaders in certain capacities. We want to trust the law enforcement and judicial system to do the right thing. We want to believe that those in whom we entrust our finances for management or investment will do so responsibly. We want to trust the integrity of those who take care of our children.
Sadly, the people we put our trust in sometimes fail us. It’s most shocking when it is least expected. You hear the reports, “Oh, my neighbor was always so nice, I never would have expected him capable of this crime!”
You never expect it to be someone you know; it’s always someone else. One time I had the evening local TV news on in the background as I prepared dinner and they were giving a report about a child molester. Sigh. Another one. Then they mentioned the suspect’s name and I ran into the living room. It was someone I had worked with! Fortunately, I did not work closely with him, but he was in my department. I was shocked!
The worst shock is when it is a friend you know and love that commits a criminal act. A person with a wonderful reputation who is revealed as something other than wonderful. That hurts the most. You lose a friend. It could make you think, “How can I ever trust anyone again? Will I be suspicious of all my friends now?” It’s a hard thing.
I still believe in people, in the beauty that is in the human race. But I am a little wiser. One thing that we cannot compromise on in life is integrity. Without our integrity, we are nothing. If we cannot look ourselves in the mirror in the morning with a clear conscience, we have some work to do.
As Buddha said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.”
Or to take from Shakespeare, “Truth will out.”