Apparently you can be integrous. I’ve often wanted to use the term but it wasn’t till I googled it today that I was even sure it is a word. What does it say about us that this word is very rarely used in the English language to describe someone?
I enjoy words and making connections. After reading a number of different things around the idea of stories we live by and the values that underlie these I’ve been working with the concept that there are just a few basic categories that define us. In writing this blog I have been using this idea to group my thoughts and weave a common thread. Integrity is very much a part of the core of strength and justice.
In engineering and construction the idea that integrity and strength are synonymous is pretty clear. We talk about the integrity of a building, or the lack of structural integrity, and the implication is that the building will not stand up under adverse conditions. Seeing this parallel has helped me better understand my own journey and what it really means to be strong.
Strength, in this way of thinking is an internal thing. The ability to remain fast and withstand being shaped undesirably when subjected to pressure by an external force. It is about how well our core being remains strong when challenged or even attacked. I believe our ability ‘stand strong’ is linked directly to our level of integrity.
When people talk about someone having integrity they often mean that a person is upright, or lives by a particularly strong moral code. This definition does not really help us however if it is something we are desiring to develop. One dictionary definition: ‘the quality or state of being complete or undivided’, speaks more clearly too how we can actually have integrity.
If we consider this in terms of character it suggests that integrity involves a unity between what we say and what we do; the values we hold to and the extent to which we walk them out. Personally I would say my integrity level is fairly average. External I probably give the impression of having more integrity that I actually do, but part of this is because I try to live with integrity.
Being something and acting in such a way as to try and have something are two different things. This does not mean that we cannot develop integrity, but it means that we have to be continually cognizant of the areas where we there is a division between our stated beliefs or values and our actions as this is the point of weakness that will undermine our ability to actually be strong.
When we lack integrity as individuals we lack integrity as a society. We cannot be strong and healthy if we are divided and lacking wholeness. I think we have undervalued the importance of integrity in creating a just and righteous social fabric. So I am going to work on bringing ‘Integrous’ back into use, both in my desire to be more and see others described as such.