Integrity? In 2017?? Really?
The Merriam-Webster definition has this example:
She had the integrity to refuse to compromise on matters of principle.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy, in that judging with the standards of integrity involves regarding internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding within themselves apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs. The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.
It’s very easy to say “I have integrity” if no one ever challenges you. The only time this quality shows up is when you are being asked to participate in a behavior that will ask you to do something that isn’t in alignment with your values. That assumes, of course, that you have values. Some individuals do not. If you think that having values means doing whatever you want just because you can, you are truly clueless.
Here is what one highly regarded university has to say about “integrity” in their policies:
X is a learning community that fosters the pursuit of knowledge and the transmission of ideas within a context that emphasizes a sense of responsibility for oneself, for others and for society at large. To preserve the quality of education offered to students, the university is responsible for maintaining academic integrity and protecting all those who depend on it, including the community partners and institutional affiliates. Violations of academic integrity, in any of their forms, are, therefore, detrimental to the values of this university, to the students’ own development as responsible members of society, to the pursuit of knowledge, and to the transmission of ideas. All members of the university community share the responsibility for creating conditions that support academic integrity(1).
If you know that your behavior is “slightly untrue” and you have to “put a spin on it” in order for it to be successful; if you knowingly do something that will harm another who has been good to you and just don’t care; if you act without scrupulous personal honesty, absolute self-examination or the ability to stand alone towards the good in your actions, even when others deride you for so doing, you have no integrity. Even if you do something by accident and find out later that your actions were out-of-integrity, you still have an obligation to be responsible, make amends where possible, and apologize.
If you claim that you have been doing something for a specific number of years when it has really been far less, if you copy something successfully created by another because you are unable, on your own, to create something uniquely your own; if you go behind a person’s back to operate in a deceitful manner and then act if what you have done and are doing is “no big deal”; then you are like all the others who have no courage and no decency. You are dishonest.
If you ride on someone else’s reputation because you don’t have one of your own and then claim that you are the reason for your own success, you are essentially lying and a liar has no integrity.
These days, most people not only don’t care, they don’t even think at any time, “Do my actions have integrity?” I really believe they never contemplate the question.
We live in a world in which acting without integrity is often rewarded. That doesn’t make it right. Certainly the POTUS is an example of someone with absolutely no integrity in any area whatsoever who was rewarded with the most powerful job on earth.
Many people who consider themselves “spiritual” or “good people” will act without integrity to make money, get something they desire, make a reputation or crush someone else to surge ahead. They will make excuses, they will justify, they will be casual, dismissive and flippant. They will go to their religious services to show their piety. They will donate to charity, be nice to kids and take the dog to the vet. They will still lack integrity.
If you are an instructor, you cannot ever, in any circumstance, violate your own integrity. You cannot act in such a way as to harm another person, institution or ideal to benefit yourself. Even if others don’t know, you do. You think you can get away with it, but you will pay a price. You will never have a free conscience.
If you cannot, as the above quote says, maintain academic [my words added here: or personal] integrity and protect all those who depend on it, you have no values. If you cannot tell the absolute, honest truth when under fire, you have no worth. If you are afraid to do what’s right and then act in a questionable manner because you can, you have no character or moral fiber.
Be very careful how you behave. You cannot purchase integrity. Without it, you are truly worthless.
(1) name of university available upon request.