Integrity is a trait you are born with it. it is a Life attribute.
It is as essential to you as gills to a fish and as vital. It helps you make sense of the universe; to choose from it things that nurture your life and reject those that (may) destroy it.
Like all core values, Integrity does not concern itself with short-term benefits. Its nature is eternal and so must its rewards be. If you want short rage rewards, you must negate, deny and obliterate Integrity first. Sadly, that’s what many end up doing. They say they are being ‘practical’. Being ‘practical’, for them, is the ultimate virtue since it brings them instant rewards. Never mind if they are transitory… because the next split second brings a new set of rewards.
They never notice that they are dropping silent zeros in their wake as they move feverishly onward.
(If ever the world is destroyed and in some distant future people from another planet come to earth to find out what destroyed us, they will find the word ‘practical’ hidden under the debris like a cornered rat. They will… I know they will.)
Integrity is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake your consciousness, just as honesty is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake existence—that man is an indivisible entity, an integrated unit of two attributes: of matter and consciousness, and that he may permit no breach between body and mind, between action and thought, between his life and his convictions—that, like a judge impervious to public opinion, he may not sacrifice his convictions to the wishes of others, be it the whole of mankind shouting pleas or threats against him—that courage and confidence are practical necessities, that courage is the practical form of being true to existence, of being true to truth, and confidence is the practical form of being true to one’s own consciousness.
Integrity is an inner attribute which manifests itself in demonstrable action as Honesty. Yet, the presence of honesty is no proof of the presence of Integrity. This assumption, that an Honest person must surely be a person of Integrity, has surely been the cause of much devastation.
Honesty may be judged by the fact that you do not pick the pocket of your fellow humans, but that doesn’t make you a person of Integrity. If your convictions are transitory, if you change your stand on a whim, you are hardly a person of Integrity.
Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea.
Integrity is your loyalty and commitment to truth- a truth which is eternal and unshakable. It is a statement of your respect for yourself. You are because you respect yourself too much to be otherwise.
To stand by an idea against all odds- against the pleas of your friends; against the threats of your foes; against that traitorous voice within that insidiously drags you, inch by inch, towards being ‘practical’. It is exhausting; it is difficult. And for what? For something too distant to be visible- assuming it is there at all and the whole thing isn’t someone’s sick joke?
Meanwhile, what do you see around you as you lug that awful Integrity dead-weight around? You see others scoot past you merrily, light as air… unfettered by dead-weight. Their wheels are oiled nicely and all four cylinders booming along robustly.You see them flourishing like the proverbial green bay tree while you are panting to push one measly shoot out of the ground. Its enough to dishearten anybody.
The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not “selflessness” or “sacrifice,” but integrity. Integrity is loyalty to one’s convictions and values; it is the policy of acting in accordance with one’s values, of expressing, upholding and translating them into practical reality. If a man professes to love a woman, yet his actions are indifferent, inimical or damaging to her, it is his lack of integrity that makes him immoral.
But that’s not the whole picture. There is another perspective to this story- one hardly ever revealed or articulated by those who ought to. People who live with Integrity never talk about its rewards. And that’s wrong. They must.
If you don’t like your children idolizing unsavory public personalities, mesmerized by a carefully and professionally curated image, what are you doing about it? It is no use telling them not to admire the image; it wont help if you tell them that there is no substance behind it. The only thing that will help is to create a genuine hero right before their eyes. A hero they can touch and feel; one they can go within and examine the core of. One they can see to be Integrated… consistently and uniformly genuine.
This is why people who live with Integrity must talk about it- loud and often. In the absence of real heroes, only fake heroes will be worshiped! And that is simply sad.
I know why people who live with impeccable Integrity never talk about it. It sounds too much like boasting. They truly don’t feel they’re doing anything extraordinary.
“I’m only doing what everyone is supposed to be doing. This is how things are supposed to be! Why the song and dance?” I can almost hear a few of them saying.
It does take an exceptional mind and a still more exceptional integrity to remain untouched by the brain-destroying influences of the world’s doctrines, the accumulated evil of centuries—to remain human, since the human is the rational.
~ Ayn Rand
People of Integrity I have spoken to over the years, have told me unequivocally that living with Integrity is its own reward. It gives them freedom of thought and action that is immensely sweet. It brings to exuberant life within them, a vigorous fountain of courage and serene confidence in all existence. It is, they have all said, the touch of God in their lives. They would not have it any other way. One can’t put a price on the peace it brings.
In addition, they have all agreed that their reputation of being a person of Integrity has also brought them overwhelming and unexpected dividends. They have been given opportunities they had no clue existed. Doors have been flung open for them where no doors were possible. People- strangers- have promoted, lauded and showcased their work with no expectation of any return. They have been given a leg up even when they’ve never asked for it. And when they did ask, they got many times what they ever hoped for.
Every single person I have ever spoken to has told me that the love, respect and community they have been blessed with. They have been compensated many times over for any short-term gain they may have foregone. When you are launching yourself into space on a flight to the moon, you don’t notice that you stubbed your toe on a stone in your start-up run! It will heal. Moreover, you are bathed in silver, what care you for a few drops of red?
They say honesty is the best policy. They forget to say that living a life of Integrity is the best ‘practical’ advice to live on earth- for someone who knows themselves to be eternal beings. There really is no way of hoodwinking life. She throws you ladders and snakes whenever you deserve them. She has all the time in the world to watch you drop all the way down to the start and begin your journey from scratch.
Integrity is one of Life’s own virtues!
Note: This post is dedicated to Ms Ayn Rand with deep respect and admiration. No one has spoken as lucidly about integrity, and in such detail, as she has. My humble salute to this great mind!