The Integrity Definition: A Question of Character

Integrity is a value that society has cherished for thousands of years; however, and this amazing character trait is unwisely associated far too often in all types of individuals. Indeed, the integrity definition can vary from person to person based on their own personal beliefs as to what constitutes right and wrong. For example, some might say that one has integrity because he blindly follows orders, while another person will look at one in esteem if he disobeys immoral orders. In this article I will attempt to lay out an integrity definition that I believe is shared most commonly and serves society best.

One of the hallmarks of integrity is honesty. A person with integrity has a singular devotion to the truth in most, if not all circumstances. There might be some rare occasions where a person of integrity might tell a lie. For example, Oskar Schindler deliberately obscured the presence of Jews within his factory from the German authorities. However, these are rare examples that can often be distinguished by looking at the selfless nature of the deception itself.

A person with integrity will also not be afraid to speak their mind when appropriate. Many people are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid of how people might view them or they are upset about perturbing some official in a position of authority. The story of the Emperor Who Had No Clothes is an excellent allegory on the tendency of most people to cater to what other people want to hear and not speak the truth boldly.

A commitment to responsibility is also an important component of integrity. If someone says they are going to do something, they should follow through and not just attempt to find excuses why they cannot get the job done. If a person is not reliable, then they cannot be trusted with even the littlest tasks.

A person of integrity also will not be caught doing a number of venial acts. These include theft, murder, adultery, and blackmail, just to name a few. Society has long had a pretty consistent view of common forms of morality determined by the average human conscience. A person of integrity will rarely be found straying from these norms.

A common thread between these characteristics is that of selflessness. It is a very common human desire to do what is best for oneself first. One can see it with infants as they say "Mine!" when pointing at a toy. However, when someone goes above this desire and follows a well developed conscience instead, that commands significant respect amongst people. Jesus said it best when he summed up the entire law as encompassed by the two statements "love thy God" and "love thy neighbor as thy love thyself." The commitment to the latter (which flows naturally from the former) truly speaks to the very heart of what it means to truly have integrity.

This integrity definition is a hard standard to look up to. Indeed, and no one will ever fulfill it perfectly. However, those people who do manage to live up to these standards the majority of the time deserve our sincere respect and appreciation.

Thank you and May God bless you!

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