Assistant Editor’s Log:The Value of Integrity
By Auburn Mann
Have you ever found yourself in one of those situations where you were the only person around and you had a choice between remaining loyal to your values and convictions and deviating toward a more convenient path due to the apparent lack of surveillance?
So will you swipe the candy bar when the clerk is distracted? Will you glance at your neighbors test answers when you think the teacher is not looking? Will you run the blinking red light? If approaching a stop sign will you come to a complete stop or a rolling stop if it’s late at night and hardly anyone else is out on the road?
Situations such as these test your integrity. Integrity is defined as the consistency in adherence to a strict moral code beyond any one situation or setting. Therefore, you are the same person regardless of the circumstance; you conduct yourself in the same manner when you’re in the presence of those who will hold you to a moral standard or when you are with a less strict company, whether you’re being monitored or when alone.
Integrity is often intertwined with honesty, although both are extremely similar, however, by definition, integrity is unwavering adherence to a moral code based on certain guiding principles, such as honesty or truthfulness. So honesty can be a characteristic of integrity. Both are considered ultimate measures of character.
Although often associated with righteousness, integrity by definition this is not necessarily so. Someone who believes in immoral behavior, such as stealing, cheating, or even harming others, and consistent in this through his or her actions whether behind the scenes or out in the open, technically has integrity also. The absence of discrepancy between action and values or values they proclaim to uphold is consistent, and then it is purity and thus demonstrates integrity.
Notable 20th century Catholic monk Thomas Merton describes integrity on a personal level, where one has to eventually stand for something a set of principles that guide their daily lives. Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. strived to embody personal integrity. They openly and often uncompromisingly resisted what they saw as immoral and unjust laws and policies of the societies in which they lived.
As people struggle to develop integrity in their lives, they may find that they fail because they acquiesce to authority that may not embody integrity rather than taking the time to stand by their own principles. Once people develop integrity, they will see hypocrisy clearly. As a result, pressure from peers to deviate from what is right will be virtually powerless.