This picture is from the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA.
You are playing a ball game and you touch the ball before it is called out-of-bounds by the referee. The referee did not see you touch the ball and called the ball out-of-bounds against the other team. What do you do?
The Marine Corps Leadership Traits defines integrity as:
“Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles; includes the qualities of truthfulness and honesty.”
The Knights Code of Honor defines integrity as:
"A Knight must be a man of his word with his actions seen and unseen governed by an inner code of honesty."
People often define integrity as always telling the truth. I think that is part of the definition. I define integrity as constancy of character. Your character is the sum total of all your values and actions. Honesty is one aspect of your character. When you consistently follow those values and your acts match those values all the time, you have integrity. To tell the truth some of the time is not integrity.
When you have integrity, people can rely upon you. They know that you will live up to your values even when no one is watching. Do you want to have friends that always tell you the truth or do you want them to tell you the truth some times? Would you rely on fiends who tell you the truth all the time, or are there for you all the time? Or would you rather rely on friends who flake on you all the time?
When I think of integrity, I think of steel. When we rate steel, we rate it based upon how well the steel maintains its’ form under stress. In other words, the steel does not bend because of the weight or stress on it. It maintains its shape and stays straight. When you build a bridge, you want it made of steel that does not bend under pressure. You would not want to cross a bridge that did not have integrity; you would not trust it to keep you safe.
“The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but the one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall.” Proverbs 28:18
"Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You." Psalm 25:21
How well do you keep true to your values when you are under stress, especially the stress of peer pressure? Do you say no when others are smoking pot or doing drugs? What if it is your friends and they are pressuring you? Can you maintain your values when your friends are pressing you to compromise? Do you do what is right no matter the cost?
Some people fold like blankets under pressure. You know, I have never tried building a bridge out of blankets. I really don’t think it would work well. I think I will stay with tried and true steel.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
One of the best quotes I have heard about integrity comes from the Garth Brooks song titled ‘The Change’.
“I hear them saying, you'll never change things and no matter what you do it remains the same thing. But it is not the world I am changing. I do this so this world will know that it will not change me.”
Some videos on integrity that I found on YouTube: