A penetrating definition of integrity is being loyal to those not present*.
What does that mean?
When you are with people, conversing with them, your integrity (or lack thereof) is on display in how you talk about those who are not with you.
If you have a habit of gossiping or speaking negatively about people not present, you break trust with those who are present, because what you show them is that perhaps the next time they are not present you may also do so to them.
So integrity in its rawest form is being loyal to those not present.
And by honouring those not present, you honour and build trust with those present. How you treat one person, present or not, is indicative to how you will treat all persons.
Integrity in an interdependent reality is simply this: you treat everyone (present or not) by the same set of principles or values.
Integrity also includes honesty. This brings us to having enough care for people with whom we do have difficulties to come out and confront them. We are honest enough to confront. And it brings us to having to listen to the other’s point of view. Often the reason for difficult people in our life stems from a differing point of view. And remember, we are the difficult person in someone else’s life.
With inclusion of honesty, there is the exclusion of deceit. Integrity includes avoiding any communication that is deceptive.
“A lie is any communication with the intent to deceive”, as goes one definition of the word. Whether we communicate with words or behaviour, if we have integrity, our intent cannot be to deceive.**
Take a look at the world around us today, global corona virus and all. How much messaging comes at us that carries deception, sometimes even ever so subtly? It becomes difficult to discern what is truth and what is lie. I often wonder about the powers over us – governing bodies and such – how much integrity do they have, how much of their messaging contains just a ‘little bit’ of lying. Remember a lie is a communication with the intent to deceive. The exact opposite of acting with integrity!
We are in a world that needs you and I to grow in integrity and speak truth in love. A hard thing to do. But a much needed thing to do. And we can begin to call that forth in others also.
If we are to grow in integrity, and grow in truth, a solid place to start is as close to the source of truth as possible.
What sources of truth are there for us to anchor our integrity?
“I am the truth.”Jesus Christ
* The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
** Also Stephen Covey