Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Challenge of Living with Integrity

"Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty"

"A concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. In western ethics, integrity is regarded as the quality of having an intuitive sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one's action. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs."

Living in India has caused me to think a lot about integrity and what it means. I have to say that I don’t see a lot of integrity in the world, I get a lot of empty words, which leads me to have a lack of confidence in others. Promises are made but typically they are not followed through. It seems that there is a great deal of short term memory loss, selective forgetting or just saying whatever comes to mind without feeling truly responsible for following through. Self-accountability seems to be non-existent in our world with people hardly admitting and taking responsibility when they may have done something wrong.

Integrity is a core value in my life. It has always been this way but has become even more so as I’ve matured. If I say something, if someone sends me an e-mail, if I say that I will do something, I follow through. I don’t make empty promises, say that I will do something, if I cannot. But all too often I find that others say things or ignore an e-mail and don’t think anymore about this.

I have many examples from India, the most recent being a colleague saying that they would visit me, while I was sick in the hospital. I talked to the person about one hour before they said that they would come. They never showed up, never called to just say “sorry”, nothing. (One other person who said that they would come, didn’t, but did call late the next day to apologize). During the work day things are said but action is not taken and if I don’t remind people of what they are supposed to do nothing happens. Just look at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games and the utter lack of integrity on the part of those involved with planning and implementation. It is really so very sad to witness. Consistently empty words.

Examples also come from the U.S. and other countries as I send e-mails looking for information, with sometimes there being no response, and other times people promising to get back to me. This comes not only from acquaintances but also family and friends. (Is it just a discomfort and so instead of responding people just ignore? Or is it by ignoring that it just goes away or is it just a general lack of respect for others?) Yes, life happens and I’ve observed that people become so inwardly focused on their own worlds that they just can’t see anything else. It saddens me to see what I perceive as a basic selfishness, but possibly it is more about being unaware or just feeling so overwhelmed that it is impossible to deal with a bigger picture.

My birth country is so full of people lacking any kind of integrity and honesty. One can see this in the current election campaigns, in the selfishness to do anything, including lying, to get oneself elected. Forget ethics and values, forget any real core beliefs except that one has to believe in “God” and live under Judeo-Christian values. Unfortunately most of the people espousing how religious they are, have little understanding of what this really means. It translates to an intolerance of others, leads to divisiveness and ultimately ends in more lies, dishonesty and cheating others.

Even though I’ve become more of a talker in life, as I feel that there is much to say and I’m not shy, I’ve listened, observed and seen integrity in some others. There are some relatives and friends who seem to possess integrity as one of their core values, some colleagues, but there are not a lot of people who really practice the consistency that it takes. The people who possess integrity, who tend to see the bigger pictures are the ones that I would trust with my life.

We seem as a global society to be so far past ever really being able to get back to any kind of real integrity to save ourselves from ultimate destruction. Our relationships lack integrity and one really has to wonder if there are any world leaders possessing this as a core value.

I will not waver in practicing integrity as it is too important. I will continue to look for those who are aware and also practice this value. India continues to challenge and teach me what I want and what I don’t want in life.

1 comment:

Koraput Hilary said...

Hear hear. An eloquent expression of the frustrations and disappointments at the attitudes of some, a feeling shared by many of us. Keep up your integrity, it can be an inspiration to others