He is a man of integrity.
Have you ever heard someone referred to as such? What does that really mean? A man of perfection? A man of excellent decision making abilities? A man who is trustworthy and honest?
Isn’t that actually quite a heavy anchor to put on someone’s shoulders?
I remember a former pastor of mine once referring to me to someone else as “one of the good ones.” It was a nice compliment, but it frightened me because of its implications. What if I don’t remain “one of the good ones?” What if I mess up? What if I make a terrible mistake in my life? Am I suddenly not one of the good ones anymore?
This, in theme, is what my fifth novel is about. I’m currently writing it and it is, in a sense, a (very) loose re-telling of the story of David. I have always found his story fascinating because he was “one of the good ones” and then fell as hard as anyone could have fallen only to be once again considered, in the end, “one of the good ones.” It’s a fascinating dynamic, which I’m attempting to discover if it can practically work in our modern setting. Lots of good philosophical ideas to debate in my head as I write this one.
So as I wrestle with this idea of integrity, the question must be asked: can integrity be lost? At what point is integrity lost? And, can it ever be gained back again?
These are difficult questions, which actually expose some of the fallacy of integrity to begin with, and here’s why: every person does things that he or she isn’t proud of. Every person is capable of making a huge mistake. Every person has the ability to lose the integrity perceived upon them by outside eyes.
This is also the same problem I have with the term ‘hypocrite’ because everyone at some point in their life is a hypocrite. No one will ever 100% follow through on what they say they believe or what they say they do.
Then why do we bestow such flame happy words upon them? Why can’t we just let humans be humans – mistakes and all – moles and all – hypocritical behavior and all?
We spend too much energy requiring everyone’s actions to live up to their words, and when they don’t, our modern society and our ever encompassing social media and news networks are always happy to expose everyone’s vulnerability.
But when I go back to the question of integrity, can lost integrity ever be gained back again? Is it possible? What would it take? Is there ever a way for good that has fallen to evil be brought back around to good again?
I’ll let you know when I finish my novel.
2 responses to “Integrity: Can it be lost and then re-found? (Philosophical musings of my next novel.)”
Isn’t that , pragmatically, how experience works. To know one’s limits, and then come to know oneself later in life, with our ideals hanging around us like club scarves we once belonged to?
Very well put, Julie.