That is called integrity. Unfortunately it is not something you can buy or steal.
- The L Word
The easiest way to understand the basic concept of integrity is: doing the right thing when no one is looking and no reward forthcoming.
The delicious irony of the second sentence of the quote is that buying someone's good will or stealing anything would be the opposite of having integrity.
Does integrity exist today or is it a virtue more comfortably left in the past?
No one can claim to be pure and noble. We all have our weaknesses and strengths. None of us is perfect. When we demonstrate moral weakness, we join the vast majority of humanity that is not consistent about integrity.
Most of us try to do our best most of the time. Whether anyone is watching is or not, whether we may get a reward or not. If we don't, we may have trouble sleeping at night, we may suffer stress and its resulting anxiety beyond what we should, our relationships with those we love will surely suffer eventually.
Our media fill our minds with examples of every kind of immoral behaviour that is anything but integrity. Yet, somehow, most of us keep trying to do what is right.
Whether we have integrity or we act the opposite way, a large part of the responsibility lies with our parents. In the first five years of life, parents teach us by example or by actively teaching us lessons to live with integrity or to work against the benefit of society as a whole to gain for ourselves. As adults, we each make decisions for ourselves. Yet most of us, especially after age 40 (usually sooner), follow the life lessons and role models given to us by our parents.
Integrity is how we survive instead of descending into chaos as families and communities and nations.
Why should we care about our community as a whole if our community seems to not care about us? Actually, it does. Communities don't have good enough social skills to express to us how much they appreciate us. What they do have is a penchant for whining and crying when its citizens misbehave. They whine and cry because they have not yet gained sufficient maturity to know what to do to solve its problems and avoid them in the future.
As sophisticated as we have become technologically and to a lesser extent scientifically, socially as communities we are just entering our adolescence. Seven billion of us live in an immature world that only our descendents will see into adulthood.
Just as we can't force an adolescent of 14 years to act like an adult in all ways, we can't push our communities to act more mature when they don't know how.
We can only do the right thing, do our small part to see that the community we belong to grows in a healthy way.
That means living with integrity.
Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to grow children into adults who live comfortably with integrity and maturity.
Learn more at http://billallin.com