My values # 5 Integrity

Integrity

In my reflection on values of importance to me, it is fitting I include a post on integrity, perhaps the most righteous virtue to aspire to. Integrity is consistency of behaviour based on values or beliefs. The emphasis is an honest adherence to a value or belief; rather than any specific value or belief in the first place. The truth is you can make up your own code and not all are admirable. If you really want to live righteously and fairly, then ultimately your own code should include moral and ethical concepts.

Some of the beliefs I personally aspire to are: do no harm, compassion, fairness, fidelity, honesty, privacy, freedom, justice, democracy, human rights, proactive civil society, utilitarianism, use of science creatively not destructively, creativity, and pacifism.

However, integrity is more than beliefs. Integrity is acting on your beliefs, consistently.

One of my greatest beliefs is being part of a “proactive civil society”. I strongly believe I should contribute to society – give back. More than that, if there is something ‘not quite right’, then I should speak out or act to change it.

As a couple, my husband and I lived by that code. We were active on community issues. We acted in tandem, with me being the quiet yet determined researcher, the gatherer of information, the planner of strategies. My husband was the negotiator, the ‘voice’, drawing in supporters and believers by his gregarious nature. We believed in measured, well-delivered strategies by negotiation and community participation. One thing was for certain though, if it was an issue we believed in, we did not let it go. One could even say that on some social justice and environmental issues, we were a “formidable force”.

All of this belief system crumbled and was lost on his leaving me. Part of my deepest despair was trying to come to terms with ‘what did that all mean?’ I thought that it had been our strong family unit and us as a steadfast strong-minded couple that gave me the energy to speak out, the courage to make a difference. I thought that is was our professed family values based on fairness, dependability, tolerance, keeping promises, not lying or deceiving, and respecting others; that gave me my warm inner core of strength. So strong I was able to give back. So strong I was able to stand up for my beliefs, for people’s rights.

What happened to those values, those virtues, those morals, those beliefs that we stood for together? When he walked away from me, from our partnership, did he walk away from that belief system as well? I was the believer, the unshakable one. He was the voice. Was it all an illusion? Did I only act the way I did, did I only believe what I thought I believed, because he was beside me?

His leaving me rocked my belief system to its core.

If I truly believe (as I thought I did) that one should absolutely contribute as much as one can to society, to right the wrongs, to stand up and speak out; and if I truly believe (as I thought I did) that I have so much still to contribute; then if I have now been crumpled down to a dithering mess, unable to even think straight long enough to remember to take my green bags to the shop, let alone try and save the planet; then what has happened to my own beliefs; what has happened to my own integrity?

Over the past months, I have read other people grapple with this same issue. ‘What is wrong with me?’ they ask, as they care for sick loved ones, as they recover from surgery, as they grieve the loss of friends or family. I understand their plight and am able to assure them “you are going through a difficult time… be kind to yourself”. I am less kind to myself. I feel I have lost my own inner compass.

It is time to reassess my own direction.

In order to do that, I need to accept my true self for who I am now as a single person, my strengths and my limitations. I need to affirm my own individual beliefs and choose a level at which I am prepared and capable of acting on. I need to accept that until I have regained my inner strength, I may not be able to make a difference globally, nationally or even at a community level. However, l can still act by my own code within my own home, within my workplace and with my friends, family and acquaintances. Then, if I keep acting within my own belief system, I may say once again that I am living with integrity.

“In matters of principle stand like a rock” Thomas Jefferson

15 thoughts on “My values # 5 Integrity

  1. This brilliant post made me cry because, even though I haven’t been left in the same way, I feel abandoned and seem to have lost my bearings. You seem a much stronger person than I will ever be in terms of your integrity. But may be just let go? Dunno. I have had to sort of give up in order to begin again – probably doesn’t make sense but my thoughts are with you.

    • It makes a lot of sense, and we are one and the same. When you go through a crisis, everything is tested. And I certainly know what you mean by feeling abandoned, as even though others rally to your support, there is nothing like the strong partner beside you to get you through the day. You too have lost that ‘one and only’ – same as me – but yours through illness, mine through abandonment. And it is tough going on your own. And I know what you mean by ‘giving up’ in order to begin again, as we sort of need to give up the place and comfort we were in, the normalcy that we thought we had, in order to cope with the new order in our lives, that simply put is just not the same. You do SO well and I am inspired by your strength and courage.
      Thanks for posting your message to me. It has meant a lot.

  2. very touching post, thank you for writing! figuring out what our values actually are, much less acting on them intentionally, is such a challenge. integrity is a big one, a call to action. i think everyone has that seed inside them, yet so few of us really think through it and act. i think you should be gentler with yourself. you know from experience that there is a way for you to embody your integrity. you’ve been knocked to your knees and forced to re-evaluate. i think you will find a way to re-gain what you lost and make it even better, more authentic. it will take time and healing, treat yourself with kindness in the meantime.

    • Thanks for such kind words. They really have meant a lot to me. You are quite empathetic with true insight as to how I have been feeling. you are correct that I should show myself more kindness and I know that I eventually will get through to find my true authentic self again.
      I have read a bit of your blog. It is truly amazing. I went back to the beginning to get an insight into you. We all have our ups and downs and you have been truthful and honest in your appraisal of your own. You are inspiring and a help to others.
      thanks again.

  3. I think you’re reflections of your authentic self – whether as it was defined when married or single – is the key to living with integrity. And you make a difference everyday – your words heal or inform, your thoughts prompt a door to open, someone feels connected in a new way. Rather than defining impact on a global level, I hope you see how significant your impact can be – and is – by the honest way in which you live and share.

    • Thanks Mimi. This brought a tear to my eye. I do feel that the new me will be making a difference on a different level in a different way. I truly appreciate your belief in me.

      I wish you all the best in your own recovery from your health issues. You are wonderful caring and compassionate. I feel privileged to know you.

      Thanks again πŸ™‚

  4. The irony of your first quote couldn’t escape me. Quoting JFK about integrity, a man who was so eloquent, charismatic and geegarious and yet had no integrity, no fidelity to his wife to such an extent that he didn’t bother to hide his escapades…

    Some people talk and others walk. You walked the walk, and my hope is that despite the pain and the betrayal you wouldn’t lose your core, the part of you you’re proud of.

    • Thanks for your comment. Actually the complete quote is a lot longer and speaks about the little person doing his little bit which I liked but then cut it down because the post was too long. I suppose I was thinking about the words, not the personal integrity of the person who said them. Your comments have made me think and I feel that you are correct. So much that I will take the quote off. I am grateful for your feedback. I actually take a long time to write my posts and do a bit of research on the topic but I did miss that irony. Thanks

  5. It’s easy to have good values when everything is fine. People who keep sound values when all around them is imploding and exploding are the ones with true integrity. You are one of those people.

    Have you ever read The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts?

    • Thanks for your encouraging comment and respectful “cyber-opinion” of me. I suppose my values are the one thing not taken away from me, so I will continue to nurture them, help them flourish.
      No, I have not read that book. I read a summary on the Internet after you recommended it and I will now check it out.
      I hope you are OK with the dilemma you are going through with your ex-husband. It must be so sad – despite all that has happened. Thinking of you.

  6. Pingback: Coming Home to Calm | Almost Spring

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    • Thanks for picking up on that and commenting on a older post. Back in those days I was trying to be positive and writing about it. Now I believe that I am more truly living the way I wrote about (or trying to πŸ™‚ )

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