16 year old Sabine Scherer has given me permission to put her essay on Integrity on the blog. Enjoy and consider it for yourself. What does integrity mean to you, and how does it influence the flow of your life? What do you do that you feel good about? I think it is an important question to come back to day after day.
It seems to me that the average middle-aged woman who lives in Californa defines integrity as something along the lines of honesty.
Journalism advisor and English teacher Jennifer Moffitt described integrity as being true to your word. “To have integrity you must have honesty,” Moffitt said. In order to live a life with integrity, it is important to “set realistic expectations for yourself.”
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary (www.merriam-webster.com) states that a “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values,” is a trait of an individual with integrity. Merriam-Webster also names honesty as the synonym to integrity.
Junior at Lowell High School Larry Yee said that to live a life with integrity, one must, “stay by your word and your beliefs. If you say something, do it.”
“If someone changes what they think and believe very often, they don’t have integrity,” Yee said.
Cathy Edgett emphasized the importance of integrity. “In my opinion, there is nothing more important than integrity. No one can take it away from us. It carries us through our days and nights.”
Edgett defined integrity as, “honoring our inner knowing as to right and wrong, and knowing there are no absolutes, and so we must each feel our way through each situation, each moment, each day. I think we have an inner guidance system. ‘This feels right. That feels wrong. I know what to do, and I will honor my inner knowing, honor what I feel is right and needed in this situation.’
Edgett also pointed out that integrity is not simply to be honorable, but to be honorable to yourself. “It may mean we are not in step with the crowd, that we are ‘marching to our own drummer,’ and it is what we must do to stay true to ourselves. That is integrity for me, honoring our inner knowing.”
To live with integrity every day, Edgett gives an example. E-mail. “I live my life trying to honor what feels right to me. I receive innumerable emails and snail mail each day asking me to donate time and money to worthwhile causes. Some days I do, and some days I don't. It depends on my energy level and what feels right to me in the moment. I think it is up to me to honor my own time and energy, and then give luxuriously when it feels right to me, and pay attention to my own survival needs when that, too, is up and first priority on my list.”
Edgett explained her methods of keeping integrity in her life. “I need a great deal of solitude. Integrity requires me to convey that to my friends. Integrity is to use ‘I’ statements. ‘I need some time to myself. It has nothing to do with you, only with my needs.’ In a disagreement, again, it is important to me that I use ‘I’ statements, rather than attacking another. It is not what ‘you did,’ but, ‘I need, think, feel, want.’ Integrity is an honoring of myself, and what I want and need.”
Edgett shed light on the importance of the descision making process. “It is not always clear-cut what I want and need, and yet, I think that in most circumstances, if I pause and consider, I do know what to do, and if I don't yet know, I am in a better place to gather the information to help me with my decision.”
Edgett shared her experiences throughout the day that signal integrity. “Many of us see homeless people during the day. Again, I use an ‘intuitive’ hit as to when I give and when I just smile and pass on by. I think it is important to honor the person, as much as possible, and we can't give to each person we pass, and it may not even be appropriate. Again, it is an inner honoring of ourselves, of what we can do, of what we can give, and where and when we need to put ourselves first.”
Edgett concluded, “Integrity is complex and simple. I believe if we follow our inner knowing, our path will be reasonably clear, and the one that works for us.”
In closing, Edgett provided examples of others who in her opinion possessed integrity. “Some of the people who I admire, who live, in my estimation, with integrity, are the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Nelson Mandela.”
For me, integrity is to be trustworthy and honorable. Integrity as far as my relationship with others means following through on my word when I say I will get together with friends. In the journalism environment it means pulling through for the rest of the staff by carrying out my responsibility as editor-in-chief. Integrity is following through on my own promises to myself. Integrity is meeting standards, not necessarily other peoples’, but my own.
In my relationship with my parents, I bring integrity by being honest about my heart’s desires, and my overall intentions. I tell the truth to my parents on such a broad scale, it would shock some of my peers. I tell my mother how I feel about everything. Any big events that happen in my life, whether it is acquiring a boyfriend, or having problems in school, I tell my parents. I think that laying my overall agenda and my feelings about everything out on the table for my parents requires integrity, a form of integrity that actually comes easily to me, maybe because my mother is a therapist.
On a large scale, I feel I have integrity, but it is the little slip-ups I make every once in a while that disappoint my mother. I never lie to purposely upset or disappoint anyone. Generally I do not lie, I merely leave out a bit of the truth. However, to live a life of integrity is to not distort the truth, but to lay the truth on the table. I also believe to have integrity is to not be ashamed of the truth, or your beliefs, and I am not ashamed of my feelings about anything.
I want to promise to always be good. I want to promise to always be honest about everything. I want to promise to be the perfect daughter. But if I want to live a life of integrity, I feel I cannot make promises I cannot keep. For me, a life with integrity requires an individual to stick to their promises and to their convictions. However, I think that those promises and convictions should be realistic, because making unattainable but perfect goals does not mean you have integrity.
I will be honest, and I will follow my intuition. I will live with integrity to the best of my ability. I will not promise to never falter from the path of integrity, but I will promise to give it my all. I will abstain from omitting the truth, but along with that, I will become more defensive of my beliefs. If I believe something is right, I will say so, and not let anyone stop me from doing what I want. I will not lie, but I will still do what I want, and what I think is right. As Cathy Edgett advised, I will increase my use of “I” statements, rather than attacking others. Now I see that as immature, and irresponsible. I will take responsibility for my actions.
I want to live life as a responsible, honorable human being. I want to live a life with integrity.