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Integrity: What Does It Mean?

Posted by Michelle Moquin on September 6th, 2010


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Good morning.

The more I read about people and their actions, their behavior, the more I ask, “Where is the integrity?” People self-promote that they have it, but isn’t it better to just stay quiet and humble and show us through your attitude and actions? Or you hear people say, “Oh so-and-so…he has lots of integrity.” But then so often the truth is revealed and so-and-so not only lacks integrity, but so-and-so is downright sanctimonious. And our jaws are left open and hanging in amazement as the truth is revealed and going viral. The saying “You can run, but you can’t hide”, is something many who lack integrity, learn the hard way. If you watch the news, it is proven daily just how much our society lacks integrity.

I had heard awhile back that in 2005 the word “Integrity” was the Merriam Webster word of the year and that in 2009 it was one of the top words that was looked up in the dictionary. And I don’t think people were looking up the spelling of the word:

So why all this interest in “Integrity”? I found this write that I found interesting. It is from a blog called Integrious: The New Adjective of Integrity. It is one person’s point of view – what is yours?

The Problem

Posted on May 4, 2010 by Beau

The dead word: Once alive and in circulation this word is now all but dead, forgotten and buried in the sands of irrelevance. The English language retired the word sometime around the early 20th century, and one must go back to the Oxford dictionary 1946 edition to find its last official entry. Integrity the adjective is like many things of the past, a faint memory in obscurity symbolizing a distant and nostalgic taste for those who remember, and a nonexistent reality for those who aren’t old enough.

The suffering of integrity: It is not by accident that the word has fallen into obscurity, for integrity is not what it used to be. We are living in a world where dishonesty, corruption and oppression rule the headlines. A world where reality television has become a way for people to live their lives vicariously from the couch. The American people by and large have been taken advantage of by their government and financial system and we need look no farther to politics and Wall Street to define a modern lack of integrity. Technology, the media and the new mediums of communication have brought us together in ways that are beneficial, but it has also created a collective culture and society that is starting to eat away at our individualism and more importantly our self discovered values. It is quite painstakingly clear that the value of integrity is suffering wildly. However, I don’t think that is exactly a ground breaking statement or newsworthy, since most people know this. But what is not so obvious is how many people have a misguided understanding of it.

The Misunderstood Virtue: The definition of integrity is a strong adherence to a set of values. The set of values being determined by the subject. Most people when asked what integrity means will give you other adjectives to describe it, honesty being a common one, or say something along the lines of doing what is right when no one is looking. If you ask them again to describe or define integrity without using another virtuous adjective you will either get a blank look or a story of sorts that demonstrates the meaning of integrity. This is what our current society thinks integrity means. These answers can be accurate but fail miserably to define integrity.  Yes, I am generalizing and there are plenty of people who know exactly what it means, but they are not the majority.

To see this we have to look no further than the dictionary. In 2005 Integrity was the Merriam Webster word of the year. In 2009 dictionary.com named integrity to its top ten list. So how does Merriam Webster and Dictionary.com select their words of the year? The answer is surprisingly simple, they take the words that are most often looked up or searched in a given year. The next logical question is why would so many people be looking up the word integrity? Let’s assume it isn’t a spelling inquiry, and that leaves one conclusion; people are interested in the word and unsure exactly what it means. This is understandable because the meaning of integrity is more complicated than its counterparts, honesty and courage. Honesty is directed related to truth, courage is directed related to fear (action in spite of), but integrity is directed related to a set of values. Without knowing what those values are we cannot measure integrity. Therein lies the difference and the cause for this incredible misunderstanding. Integrity is subjective, while other virtues and words with similar meaning are objective. Integrity cannot exist without known values of the subject.

Readers: Thoughts? Comments? Blog me.

Oh, I just wanted to say that I was talking to my cousin the other day at a family celebration, and he mentioned that he reads my blog quite a bit. It surprised me, and delighted me because rarely do any of my friends or family bring up my blog to me. He commented on how impressed he was because I have so many readers from so many countries with such diverse comments.

I got so caught up in our conversation that I forgot to say to him that I expected to see a comment from him.  So…cuz…how about leaving a comment? If you want to remain anonymous that is perfectly fine. How about saying something and I’ll try to guess if it’s you? I promise I won’t lead on that I know, if I figure it out.

And to the rest of my personal friends and family who read my blog: That goes for you too. Post a comment. You don’t have to reveal yourself. All you need to do is put in a name, any name. No e-mail or website is required. C’mon…say something to me. Hint to me who you are. I love the challenge. If I guess who you are, it will only be between us, I promise. I give and honor anonymity to all.  Blog me.

Anonymous: Forgive me; I wasn’t trying to be coy. It was just a misunderstanding. I thought you meant we partied at Harry’s Starlight Room. You meant, when I “worked” at Harry’s “Southside”. Okay…I get it. I wasn’t going that far back.

So, no I wasn’t…why would a girl run away from harmless attention from the boss? He was a great guy…still is, I am sure. Anyway, it’s always good to have a little chemistry with one’s boss in my opinion. It makes working together that much more fun. Plus, I was a very hard worker – and the “boss” new that too. If we partied together, you too would know that I worked as hard as I partied back then. Great to hear from you again!  We did have some good times there didn’t we? :)

Hey Helena: How are you? Nice to hear from you again.

Hey A: Happy to hear that. Sounds like you got a good thing goin’. Oh and by the way, “You’re welcome”. :)

Ah Abe: Why did I know you would get back in and make a comment on my lack of comment to you? To answer your question: “I am not a cyborg.” I’ve asked Doug that same question jokingly, “Do you think I’m a cyborg? Because I’m not.” And guess what Doug always says, “You’re programmed to say that.” Doug and I laugh and Joke about quite often. Although he doesn’t think I’m a cyborg, he thinks I’m an alien. Believe me he gets his thrills. :)

Hola Alonzo: Yes, I did love my sun, and still do. The Porsche brings back fond memories for me too, but I’ve moved up and have my eye set on a Mercedes 560SL. :) So…Nice to hear from you. Thank you for the kind words. I am delighted that you are successful, happily married, and enjoying your baby girl. Congrats too on your upcoming sale! Belvedere is beautiful – no doubt the loves in your life will be quite pleased. I wish you all the best.

Sherrie: My pleasure. Thanks for commenting.

Nani: I just googled that flying machine – Nice.

Xur: Noted, thanks.

Everyone, have a beautiful day! I am headed to my favorite mountain in Marin. Whatever you’re doing, I HOPE that you have a stellar day…

PeAce oUT….

Lastly, greed over a great story is surfacing from my ‘loyal’(?) readers. With all this back and forth about who owns what, that appears on my blog, let me reiterate that all material posted on my blog becomes the sole property of my blog. If you want to reserve any proprietary rights don’t post it to my blog. I will prominently display this caveat on my blog from now on to remind those who may have forgotten this notice.

Gratefully your blog host,

michelle

Aka BABE: We all know what this means by now :)

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23 Responses to “Integrity: What Does It Mean?”

  1. General Info Says:

    The Ultimate Cheapskate’s 5 Big Ways to Save $20,000 a Year

    Jeff Yeager

    Nearly all of the talk these days about economizing focuses on how to get what we want but pay less for it. It’s all about how to get more for less.

    For those of us who are longtime advocates of the “simple living” movement, it seems as if most Americans are missing what could be the golden opportunity of these tough times –

    coming to appreciate that less can often be more. In other words, we shouldn’t be worrying so much about “How can we afford it?” Instead, we should be asking ourselves, “Do we really need it?”

    Here are five lifestyle changes to consider. They may seem fairly radical to you when you first think about them –

    but if you adopt even one or two, you’ll not only save some serious money, you just might be happier in the end.

    1. Cancel your cell phone.

    Yearly savings: $1,000 per phone.

    The idea is surprising, I know, but just consider it for a moment. Only 20 or so years ago, cell phones were virtually nonexistent, and the world seemed to work okay.

    Now cell phones are considered a necessity, even though surveys show that we dislike our cell phones more than any other device that we own (including the alarm clock).

    So if that’s truly how we feel, how can giving them up be a bad thing? The average cell-phone plan costs about $80 a month, and a study recently released by Utility Consumers’ Action Network found that the actual average cost of using a cell phone is more than $3 a minute if you don’t use up most of your minutes and about $1 per minute even if you do use all of your minutes.

    As a fairly successful author and national media personality, I am the poster child for this cause — I have never owned a cell phone, and I get by just fine.

    If you can’t imagine not having a cell phone, consider a prepaid phone plan. Watch for sales at such stores as Target, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack.

    2. Get rid of your second or third car.

    Yearly savings: $9,000.

    The average American household now owns two or three vehicles. That compares to about one per household in 1960. AAA estimates that it costs $9,369 per year to own and operate a medium-sized sedan that is driven 15,000 miles annually.

    The national average cost per mile is 61 cents by the time you factor in depreciation, insurance, repairs, gas, taxes, etc. If your family owns more than one car, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you give up one?

    You could easily save thousands of dollars a year by sharing a single car, coordinating trips, taking public transportation and so on. And Mother Earth will thank you.

    3. Prepare more meals at home.

    Yearly savings: $2,000.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US family spends $2,668 each year eating out. I would estimate that you could prepare the same meals at home for about 80% less, or an annual savings of roughly $2,134.

    The other upside is that old-fashioned family time around the dinner table may make a comeback.

    An article in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reported that frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk for smoking, drinking and using marijuana among adolescents, as well as a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. And the kids were more likely to have better grades.

    4. Wear out your clothing.

    Yearly savings: $1,800 per family.

    A small fraction of the clothing we throw away in the US is truly “worn out,” meaning that it’s threadbare, torn or badly stained.

    Many of us donate unwanted clothing to charity, but even charities have more donations than they can handle, and much of the clothing eventually ends up being thrown away.

    The problem is that we rarely wear out our clothing — or much of anything else — these days. According to some government reports, the average American family spends roughly $1,800 on shoes and clothing per year.

    Clearly most of us have more than enough in our closets to go for six months to a year, or even longer, without needing to buy anything new.

    5. Give up college room and board.

    Yearly savings: $9,000 per student.

    The average cost of student room and board at colleges and universities is about $9,000 per year.

    A generational shift has occurred here in the US over the past few decades when it comes to kids living with their parents while they attend college.

    Back in my college days (the 1970s), lots of us — myself included — lived with our parents and attended a local university or community college.

    Today that arrangement is fairly rare — it’s just not “cool” to live with your folks. Of course, in my day, student loans were uncommon, in part because we didn’t need to borrow money to pay for room and board.

    The irony is that these days, many kids graduate with so much debt — tens of thousands of dollars in student loans — that they have no choice but to move back home with their parents after college.

    Now, back in my day, living with your parents after you graduated really was uncool.

    Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Jeff Yeager, dubbed “The Ultimate Cheapskate” by NBC’s Today show. Yeager honed his cheapskating skills during 25 years of working with underfunded nonprofit agencies. He lives in Accokeek, Maryland, and is author of The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches (Broadway). http://www.ultimatecheapskate.com.

  2. Minnie Says:

    The true proof of the lack of integrity today is in the things we hear from our politicians. Especially the republican party.

    This is the party that claimed to be so patriotic. But when a black man became President, suddenly the office of Presidency of the United States became something to trash.

    The same party claims to be about family values, but almost on a daily basis they are being caught cheating on their wives, being secretly gay(not that there is anything wrong with being gay, I’m talking about their hypocrisy), lying about the President’s policies, death squads, etc, and selling out to the highest bidder in the corporate world.

    Minnie

  3. Beau hodson Says:

    Michelle, thanks for pinging and sharing my
    blog post! I really like what you said today and just from the
    5 minutes I was able to spend reading it I can
    feel the authenticity, and look forward to following your blog!
    BH

  4. Zen Lill Says:

    There’s another word I love….authenticity!
    It’s thrown around and misused a lot also, oh and no offense intended to Beau at all, it’s just a ZL observation : )
    Luv, Zen Lill

  5. Baylee Says:

    Michelle

    It is nice to see that you Americans can be deeply introspective about things that matter to the consciousness. I blew up and passed around “The suffering of integrity” paragraph.

    I especially liked the part about the American people being taken advantage of by their government because I am part of a large growing population of China that believes the same thing about our government.

    We need look no further than the CPC and the established capitalist special districts “to define a modern lack of integrity here. The big difference is I could be imprisoned or shot for expressing my opinion. So we post articles that reflect our own dilemmas and talk around them.

    Baylee

  6. Robert Says:

    Michelle

    I was tempted to write in and strongly disagree with the author until I used your link to go to the blog. I am now a convert. But it would seem that the word really says little about the person being described as having integrity but much more about the person giving him or her the virtue.

    Of course one would have to be familiar with the values and morals of the giver. Otherwise how would one know what moral principles were at issue. In some cultures a person who beats a woman in public for violation of his religious dress code could be considered as having integrity because he demonstrated a moral uprightness by standing by his strong moral principles.

    Some people believe that it is amoral to allow mixing of the races, or for someone to have an abortion. To define someone who acts on these to the physical detriment of another as having integrity renders the word practically useless.

    Hence I see the word integrity or the term in “integrious” as never catching on until there is a predefined meaning of the word integrity.

    Under “The New Rules for Men” the flaw is glaring. Why should it be for Men only? Every thing suggested that a man should stand for should equally apply to a woman.

    The most glaring fault with this Rule 1 is the “What matters isn’t the rule-it’s the fact that he won’t compromise on it.” Sure it matters whether a person will compromise or not. Sometimes it is the compromise or the willingness to do so that makes the integrity. “Rules” change. The rule was that a woman isn’t and still isn’t in many countries equal to a man. The “rules” like morals are subjective. They depend on the culture and the creature who is advancing them.

    Sometimes the word integrity arrises out of the person redefining the standard “rules” or morals to be more inclusive or fair. Sometimes integrity can be defined as having the courage to be honest about ones beliefs when they defy your peers opinions.

    Yes, I find common ground with the author on the lack of meaning the use of the word integrity conveys today, but I disagree on whether he has yet used the word integrious with any certainty of meaning.

    Robert

  7. Zen Lill Says:

    Cheers Robert, very acurately and articulately stated. ZL

  8. Lance Says:

    Robert

    You are a deep thinker. A while back you were invited to visit us at Pier 23. We will be back on the 11th from 11 til 6. just a few lawyers, scientists, politicians and shrinks gabbing away.

    Your opinions would be welcomed. First round is on us.

    Lance

  9. Peter Says:

    Hafa adai

    For those of your interested Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele is scheduled to arrive on Guam this evening in time for the Republican Party of Guam’s fundraiser tonight at the Fiesta Resort in Tumon.
    ===================

    This is one I’ll not miss missing.

    Peter

  10. Barbara Says:

    Robert

    What do you do for a living? If I’m not being to personal. I like your bold in-your-face style.

    My brother says they’d hang a n-word like you in short order here in Biloxi. I don’t think it would be that easy.

    When I showed him one of your comments about cops. The high school diploma quip sent him and his fellow cop mates into a frenzy.

    Bet that comment got more than a few blacks whipped that night. I only mentioned it because the black ass you save from getting a tune-up by a pissed of cop could be yours.

    Barbara

  11. Gloria Says:

    I’m confused when I looked up integrity it said the quality of being honest. Either you are honest or you are not. Where’s the confusion?

    Gloria

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Okay Michelle can you guess who this is? I have been reading your blog for more than 2 years. I haven’t mentioned it to you because you reveal stuff I would never have the nerve to bring up in mixed company.

    I have said to a few of our friends that I think you are almost a different person on your blog. Someone volunteered the explanation that she thought you were going through a mid life crisis. But that was in the first year when we all were of the opinion that you wouldn’t keep it up. Now, we don’t know what to think.

  13. Haley Says:

    Robert I checked out that blog site too. It has potential. I will go back, but I’m inclined to agree with you without a standard better than the one he proffered, the term applied to anyone says more about the person using it than about the person it is applied to.

    Haley

  14. Claire Says:

    Beau:

    How do you choose which moral principles a person has to have to be integrious? I didn’t understand where you would draw the line.

    Claire

  15. Reese Says:

    I’m with Minnie. Most of the time the one’s claiming to have integrity are the ones with a problem being honest.

  16. A friend Says:

    Michelle

    I haven’t brought up your blog because I can’t believe that you believe in aliens much less that you are actually having a conversation with them.

    There are no Girlz Michelle. Just you and some insane people out there with nothing to do with their time.

    Drop the aliens and I will have no problem discussing your blog.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Michelle

    We are your friends but we haven’t met this Zen Lill. Is she real or just another made up person like your alien friends?

    Do you expect us to hold an intelligent conversation with a person who believes in such craziness?

  18. Lucy Says:

    Michelle

    I have been wanting to bring up your blog for a long time. I just don’t know where to start. For one I would love to be a girlz.

    I didn’t believe in or not believe in aliens before I started reading your blog. But now I am a firm believer. I never miss reading your blog. I even have my favorites, commenters, I mean.

    Yes, I have been in conversations with some of our friends about certain blog entries. But I love what you are doing.

    I hope you keep it up.

  19. Ruth Says:

    Hi Michelle

    I’ve been silently reading the comments. It seems it’s greener in Marin that I thought.

    We love you here so don’t let the envy get you down. I can’t wait to turn my girls onto your blog. I save your entire blog each day. There is always something to learn.

    Thanks for your commitment to making the world a better place.

    Ruth

  20. Ned Says:

    England love you too Michelle

  21. Gereshk Says:

    Integrity is a word used often by men in Iran. As Robert said, it has meaning only to the scoundrel who use it to make their actions seem justified.

    Gereshk

  22. Q&A Says:

    Q: Is it smart to avoid salt as a general rule even if my blood pressure is fine?

    A: Most people don’t need to give up salt entirely, but would be wise to limit intake. Sodium does contribute to high blood pressure and fluid retention, which force your heart to work harder and increase risk for heart attack and stroke.

    For healthy young adults, the recommended daily limit is 2,300 mg of sodium — that’s just one teaspoon of salt. African-Americans, who are more prone to high blood pressure, and anyone who is middle-aged or older (or who already has high blood pressure) should stay under 1,500 mg — about two-thirds of a teaspoon per day.

    Strategies: Avoid processed and canned foods unless labeled “low sodium.” Use herbs instead of salt to add flavor to foods. Ban the saltshaker — or at least fill it with a mix of salt, pepper and other seasonings.

    Our inside source: Lisa R. Young, PhD, RD, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University in New York City and author of The Portion Teller Plan (Broadway). http://www.portionteller.com

  23. Zen Lill Says:

    I checked out Beau’s site right while i was reading here, Integrity seems to be adhering to a set of values, ah, therein lies the problem – whose values? Christians apparently think they have the monopoly on the only set if values to live by…how very self-serving.

    Anonymous, I’m real and live in LA which probably explains why you wouldn’t have met me. If you don’t want to believe in aliens it’s ok with me though I think an open mind to anything is a more out if the box thinking option.

    Luv, Zen Lill