Integrity, as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary, the second college edition, on pages 667 & 668, published by the Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston in 1985 is (1) the rigid adherence to a code or a standard of values, (2) the state of being unimpaired, soundness; (3) the quality or condition of being whole or undivided, completeness. OK, so the dictionary is a little old; but I’m here to tell you: integrity is integrity.
Look back up there at the definition. Tell me now; just where do you see any line of demarcation that allows one to have a degree of integrity? Right! There isn’t any degree of integrity; it just doesn’t exist. See the words: rigid, unimpaired, soundness, whole, undivided and completeness. You can’t get there without going all the way. There is no path to integrity that takes you half way; it’s all or none.
To borrow from Henry Ford, “integrity is not just doing the right thing when others are looking. It’s doing the right thing all the time.”
Let us also borrow from Mark Twain while we are at it: “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.” (from “Mark Twain in Eruption).
Oh, I guess one might make allowances for politicians. To my knowledge, these days no one expects a politician’s integrity to measure the whole nine yards. I don’t understand or know why that isn’t true anymore; but that’s the way it seems.
But, back to the meat of the subject, when you hear someone refer to their level of integrity; ask them to be more specific: “Just how did you obtain your level of integrity?”
Maybe there’s a school out there that presents classes in integrity and gives out grades at the end of the instruction based on the attendee’s level of understanding. It’s probably one of those internet diplomas from the University of Integrity headed by the Prime Minister of Nairobi and you can complete the instruction in three easy emails; but first you must send them your first born and six fifths of you Social Security check for the next twenty-three and a half years. There’s just a chance that you might be able to qualify through a FBI website; that scam is running around the net again or should I say continually.
But before you apply, make sure you understand the fine print. Be sure to get the entire program. Don’t get short changed and obtain less than the entire integrity certification. You owe it to yourself.