I got your Integrity right Here…

I thoroughly stumbled across a blog tonight which I linked through another blog and so on…you get the idea. Maneuvering through the blogosphere is every bit as dizzying as wandering the random barrenness of Facebook. Before you know it, you’ve found a twice-removed friend of Linda Carter on your wall. How did that happen? Well, you see, it’s a matter of clicking, and clicking…

So this blog is named “Scott And The City” and I found an interesting post there entitled on owning yourself.

Lowercase intentional. Everything he writes is in lower case. The dude is not into alphabetical hierarchy.

Anyways, the post essentially traipses about the personality of one of his wheelchair-bound friends who had a better time at a nightclub than many able-bodied wallflowers. Scott details a trait he describes as “owning yourself” in describing his friend’s apparent ability to have a good time at the club while macking with a multitude of hot babes. He mentioned one trait which resounded in my mind. Integrity.

Reminding me of something. Integrity.
I used to give a lot of thought to integrity.

I would be happy to expound on the word, but…what is it?

You ask anyone what integrity is and they launch into a definition but they…stop…short…when they realize, uh…maybe they don’t have one after all. It’s an elusive word and a ghostly concept.

Integrity.

I once came up with a good definition. Of course, it’s forgotten. The closest I can think now is this: Integrity: the consistency of character which allows others to accurately foretell your reaction to any given situation.

OK.

Basically I’m saying that integrity = predictability?

What about Hitler?
Did he have integrity?
Yes. So did Jeffrey Dahmer.

See, you go and try defining an elusive human trait and you end up with more confusion.

I will stick by my definition.
Yes, integrity is consistency of behavior. And yes, that means Hitler and Dahmer both possessed integrity.

Back up.
Isn’t “integrity” a favorable and admirable (even lofty) quality?

Something doesn’t ring true.

Let’s go to the ultimate source, The Free Dictionary. There they describe integrity,

1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

Well then, Hitler and Stalin and Dahmer and George W. Bush still have integrity!

Well, the English language proves entirely unsuited to outlining the mechanics of integrity. It strips the word of vital human meaning and mechanizes the concept into a catch-all, value-free word.

Why is it that I have such an instinctual and favorable reaction to the word but stripped of my humanitarian definition, it is nothing but an iron-forged, machine-designed word that can describe anyone from Mother Theresa to Idi Amin?

In the computer and blogging world, there is a “meta” concept which defines text “appearing” but not…invisibly asserting its character on the real, visible world. Integrity is similar; unspoken and undescribed, it outlines a set of attributes we comprehend but can’t fully articulate.

edited December 22, 2009

2 Replies to “I got your Integrity right Here…”

  1. Hi David,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on integrity and for referencing my friend Scott’s blog. As Scott mentioned in his post “On Owning Yourself,” in a very general sense, I think of integrity as being “the opposite of hypocrisy.” Today, you helped me to assign a higher level of specificity to my understanding of this complex word.

    You say that Hitler and Dahmer had integrity; I must say that this does not sit well with me. Perhaps they were not hypocrites. Perhaps their behaviors were consistent. However, I think it’s time to tighten up my interpretation of integrity. Those with integrity do not necessarily have to adhere to a traditionally strict moral code, as Scott illustrated in his post, using Puff Daddy as an example. However, we have to draw the line somewhere. People with integrity do not act in ways that will endanger other human beings, either consciously or unconsciously. If their actions might hurt someone else, they are honest and up front about such potentially offensive behaviors before they occur, thereby giving the other person a chance to make a decision about whether or not they want to be subjected to such behaviors.

    That’s my thought on integrity. Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree.

    On a separate note, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for Scott to break a few punctuation rules here and there; doing so allows him to express his creativity and unique style as the author of this informal blog. After all, if periods, exclamation points, and questions marks are used to mark the end of sentences, is it really necessary to capitalize the first letter of the first word of every sentence? Who came up with these rules anyway? Just a though….
    =)
    Crystal

  2. David, I don’t know what integrity is anymore. What is right or wrong nowadays. It seems everyone has a fucking opinion and they stick by it. Moral and ethics are always in question but its up to the individual to decide what the fuck is right. I always thought I was doing the right thing but ya know what? Just last week I was told I have been doing it wrong.. all wrong.. by several people.. what the fuck? Sorry I’m fucking mad and you got me at the right time.

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