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Monday, July 19, 2010

The lost art of Integrity

Determining what is 'right' is a longwinded question with no real answer at all.  But there are guidelines: taking responsibility for one's actions, telling the truth, treating people with mutual respect and dignity, standing up for yourself and/or others, injustice, fairness, whatever.  But what does any of this matter here in a Western society that no longer values this within ourselves?  

We no longer hold these things dear.  It used to be that a 'man' was only as good as his 'word' and that honesty meant something.  It was all he had.  Now certainly it would be nice to expand that to 'person', as opposed to just a 'man', but the fact of the matter is that it just doesn't mean that much anymore to anyone.  People focus on themselves first, foremost, and even solely; they will compromise what is 'right' in a second if it means that they individually might have to sacrifice.  Would you stand up for what you believe to be 'right' even if it means it might cause you some discomfort or loss?  To what extent?

You live in a small town, you know people there, they know you.  An employer you know well decides not to pay their employee for some hours worked and your testimony could provide justice in the situation.  No lies or anything of the sort needed, simply telling the truth if asked.  Yet that is too much to ask even as the person not getting paid is someone you have loved.  You know they worked there, you know they put in the effort, and you know they have accepted responsibility for their own personal indiscretions.  They simply want to be paid for their time worked.  Yet you do not stand up for them or for honesty or integrity in general but rather simply for your own self-interest.  A self-interest that in-fact promotes dishonesty elsewhere.  And we as a society not only understand that, we condone it, we make it so that this choice is acceptable and perhaps necessary.  This is the most shameful part - this is way life has become us.

Our world has become about nothing more than individual politicking.  We play both sides, we do what we must do to raise ourselves up the ladders of life whether through the course of integrity or not.  Value judgements are placed on when and where we use our concept of integrity.  There are no principles, no stands to be made for what is 'right' or 'wrong', no real care about others or concessions to our selves or our 'individual liberties' in the face of another's.  The only stand that we make is that singularly popular stand for ourselves - even if this happens in the face of compromising ours or someone else's integrity.  This is truly a sad world we've created, and it is a world that - with each stand we do not take - that we continually perpetuate each and every day...   :(


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