The Value of Integrity
The six “Pillars of Character”recognized and taught by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, California, are values that are not political, religious or culturally biased. But they are a good foundation for a decent and an honourable way of living that promotes integrity and honesty. Maybe it is time to look at these values, and introduce them in our schools across the country and promote and instill these values to a younger generation as a better way of living.
Let us examine the six core ethical values or pillars of character promoted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and seek out their value for us all.
Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country.
Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements
Do what you are supposed to do • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your choices.
Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly.
Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others, help people in need.
Do your share to make your neighbourhood and community better • Co-operate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed • Be a good neighbour • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment
Wouldn’t the world be a far happier place if people lived by these values and rules? We wouldn’t have cause to be dismayed by all the scandals we are witnessing today in our country if we practiced these values as a better way of living.
Every day we are bombarded by a raft of new scandals, dishonesty and a lack of accountability from those in positions of power, trust, and care. The example being given to a younger generation leaves a lot to be desired. Even though a new report by CPI has found Ireland to be among the top 20 least corrupt countries on the planet, it does not appear that way to ordinary citizens at this point in time. While we have slipped from joint 17th position to joint 18th, this still puts us ahead of a host of other European nations, like France, Portugal, and Spain. But it still does not absolve and calls into question those in powerful positions that mismanage and erode the finances and ethics of our country.
Are these statistics realistic when we see all the corruption, dishonesty, mismanagement of tax-payers money and falsehoods that are being exposed on a daily basis to the detriment of society at large? And how is it going to be halted?
Successes will come and go, but integrity is how you live your life and the virtues you extol. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone will ever know or find out. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only one misdemeanor to lose.
We live in a world where integrity is not discussed nearly enough, nor the values that should be part of how all people, whether in positions of power or just ordinary citizens, live. Every day new scandals that are gobsmacking and unbelievable are coming into the public domain. The lack of integrity and honesty from government bodies, voluntary organisations, the banking and business sector, that are causing worry, pain, and suffering to many innocent lives, leaves a lot to be desired and highlights the disintegration of values once held dear. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” with no accountability to those who pay the piper.
Lack of honesty and integrity appears to be the acceptable school of thought and modus operandi, be they the enforcers of the law, health, justice, educational, social services, or financial systems. We look at ordinary lives where trust and respect are being eroded on a daily basis by the scandals being perpetrated by those who were relied upon and who should be giving better example to the public at large. Too many lives have been left shattered and broken by their actions. Society has been left bereft of leadership, accountability, and transparency. The rules of law and order only apply to some.
“ If it is alright for them well what’s wrong with it for us syndrome” is fast becoming a way of thinking and acting by otherwise decent people.
Integrity is being honest and having strong moral principles and being morally upright. It is a personal choice to hold oneself to having unwavering moral and ethical standards. Integrity is regarded by many people as being honest and truthful in one’s actions and words. Integrity is behaving and thinking consistently with one’s personal values and beliefs. Put another way, integrity is doing what you believe to be right, irrespective of the costs, downside, or hardships involved. What is the message being promoted today? Surely not these values that are much needed for a just and equitable society.
Having integrity means doing the right thing in a dependable and trusted way. It is a personality trait that is admirable since it means a person has a conscience that discerns right from wrong and that doesn’t waver. Some people see integrity as virtue, honesty or goodness of some kind.
Examining our own conscience
Ask yourself whether integrity has any place in your life. Assuming you want to build your own personal integrity, how about reflecting from time to time on what you believe? Come to understand yourself and your world-view a little better by self-examination. Every time you must make a choice, consider the options, even the unpalatable ones, and ask yourself which options are most consistent with what you believe. Reflect on your choice, with the benefit of hindsight, and see if it could have been done better. Did the choice feel honourable, or did it cause you some unease or some kind of contradiction of beliefs and attitudes?
Associate with other people recognized for their integrity. Their definitions of “right” and “wrong” may differ from yours, but the way they remain faithful to them might inspire you to do the same.
Discuss integrity with your family members, your peers, your workmates, your friends. Explore the issues, the trade-offs, the costs and the rewards.
The value of the trust others have in you is far beyond anything that can be measured. For you, it means having an army of people that are willing to go the extra mile to help you. The value of the trust others have in you, goes beyond anything that can be measured because it brings along with it limitless opportunities and endless possibilities.
Contrast that with the person who cannot be trusted as a person of integrity. When employers are looking for people to hire, they look for these qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, smart employers won’t offer that person a job. A person’s dishonesty will eventually catch up with them. It may not be today, but you can rest assured that at some point there will always be a reckoning. This is what is happening in our country today.
To those who are striving for a reputation of integrity: Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them. Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of life, you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many other aspects of his life also. You cannot dismiss little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who takes two newspapers from the stand when they paid for only one or hop on a bus with no ticket, or take small things that do not belong to them. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty, then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold the trust you place in them.
Surround yourself with people of integrity as inevitably we become more and more like the people we associate ourselves with every day. If we spend time with people who are dishonest and willing to cut corners to get ahead, then we will find ourselves following a pattern of first enduring their behaviour, then accepting their behaviour, and finally adopting their behaviour. If you want to build a reputation pick your company carefully.
A person who has lost their ability to be trusted as a person of integrity, which is the most valuable quality anyone can have in their life, is at a huge disadvantage. So how do we reclaim our integrity in the country we live in today? A tough task that remains to be seen.
“Integrity has no need of rules.” Albert Camus
Peg Hanafin, MSc,
Author of Getting more out of life
Thoughts for your journey
Never give up
IWish I had Known