Have you ever damaged your own integrity in a vain attempt to change another person? This is unhelpful. Integrity is when we take actions that are consistent with our principles and commitments – our core values.
I am amazed at how often ALL OF US are living inconsistently with our own beliefs. Jeffrey Blustein says, “A person acting on principle is also naturally standing FOR something, and not just being willing to stand BY what has been done.” Care and Commitment
Recently my father, with whom I am estranged, wrote on my facebook wall, “Practice what you preach.” He believes that I am acting inconsistently with my beliefs. I understand why he feels that way. I really do. It kind of breaks my heart. Over the years he has heard me speak about patience, loving others, and hanging in with relationships. I understand that our estrangement convinces him that I am doing none of those things.
Here’s the tricky part. Living out our beliefs is not a simple thing. I believe in all those things that I have spoken with him about over the years. But they are not my only beliefs. They are couched within other principles like respect for self and others and issues of safety and mutual caring and concern.
If you are having difficulty figuring out your next move of integrity that is good news. You are trying! It should be challenging. All I know to suggest is to find people who you can trust to delve deeply into the necessary work of soul searching. Because we cannot know the heart of another, it is easy, even understandable, that we might judge another’s actions as inconsistent. Let’s work hard to help each other sort out what it means to be a person of integrity, even when it is difficult terrain that holds many competing core values. At the end of the day, the person who has to live with their choices is the person making them. It isn’t easy, but it is invaluable work.