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The Importance of Integrity

posted Feb 16, 2012, 8:43 AM by Kyle Willey
From Wikipedia: Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.

I once had a high-school teacher, who, when asked about why cheating was bad, replied "First you cheat on your homework, then you cheat on your test, then you cheat on your SATs, then you cheat on your girlfriend, then you cheat on your taxes, then you cheat on your wife.". While his example (admittedly a little paraphrased) is perhaps a little dramatic, it highlights the fact that it is far easier to be upstanding in all areas than upstanding in all but one, an important warning in a day and age where compromise is king.

I am a firm believer in moral absolutism; while I refuse to condemn others because I do not live up to a perfect standard, I still think there is a perfect standard and I don't believe there's a person alive today who comes within throwing distance of it. I do, believe, however, in working to eliminate compromise; while I may never be able to keep myself from telling a lie due to my will conflicting with my values, I can force myself to be honest later. I also refuse to accept the notion that certain things are wrong for some people and right for others. This is not to say that there are actions that are necessarily wrong in and of themselves; I fully support military actions when appropriate, though I cannot approve killing innocents. I can, however, state that killing innocents is wrong for anyone.

This is what I feel is the failing of our modern society; in pretending to be civilized and tolerant, we have built up a culture that promotes decadence and sloth; while I feel that chastity and modesty are important, my peers who do not follow my moral code are given a pass by society. This does not bother me out of some sense of jealousy, but rather because it is a sign of relativism. If someone says that eating animals is fine and dandy there will be people popping out of the woodworks to correct them on the evils of harming the cute fluffy bunnies and the dolphins and whatnot; much less the supposed health consequences, but if I should state that drinking alcohol under the legal age or smoking is wrong, people say that it's just "what people choose to do". When I ask them if they would do this, they will overwhelmingly deny that they would.

All I ask for is an end to double-think. If something is harmful and wrong, it is time that society recognizes it as such. As a society, it is imperative that we make our yes mean yes and our no mean no, and we must stand for what we believe; we must challenge a spirit of compromise and we must reform not just ourselves but we must push for reform in the people around us. The attitude of relativism is one of destruction; while it may be helpful in that it keeps us from stepping on toes or hurting people's "precious" feelings, I would state that it is better to offend all the people in the world to save one life, than it is to remain silent. As a human race, we should find it better to ostracize ourselves than to fall into a den of compromise. While we cannot judge others for their actions; I cannot name a person who has not done something they should not have, we must be clear and open in what will make the world better, and if that means that we become less "pleasant", "polite", or "cultured", I reiterate my opinion that I would rather watch all of the world denounce me than miss an opportunity to save a person.

The word "nice" comes from the Latin "nescire" (the prefix ne for "not" and scire for "to know"), or not knowing. Should we then make ourselves "nice" for the sake of loyalty to a false portrait of our true selves, or should we show compassion and guidance to those around us, even if it means that we are not considered particularly well liked? Will we participate in the deception of society in order to make it be one big happy group? No. I feel that it is much better to make a fuss than to remain silent. Our society is dying, should we be quiet and let it be strangled by foolish and destructive attitudes? Never. I choose to be one who stands out and cries for help, and I will not mince my words and coat them in honey.