To me, integrity has always been defined as how you conduct yourself when no one is looking. I have honestly tried to live my adult years with this principle nagging at the back of my brain. Sure, there are times where I have failed my integrity check, as I’m sure most all of us have, but I’m aware of it when it happens. I know in that moment of weakness what I’m doing doesn’t align with the poles of my moral compass, but something in my brain urges me to proceed. It happens. I make no excuses for slip ups, and I’m proving that I’m not preaching to the choir here.
I don’t know if it’s that I am getting older and starting to see things more clearly or if younger people today just exhibit an extraordinary lack of morals. (I know I’m treading into that whole “get off my lawn” territory again.) I understand how 18 year olds are because I have several of them working for me. I see them as customers and I interview some as well. Now, they’re not all terrible, but it seems to me that the ones who have a smidgen of intelligence are the ones who will destroy anyone who gets in their way by any means possible. They can’t accept responsibility for their own actions and it drives me mad. If I screw something up, I’ll be the first to let you know (if I realize I did). Some of these kids will deny things even when you have proof positive.
Let me state that it’s not just kids or 18 year olds. It runs the full age gamut; I simply see it most in the younger crowd. There are absolutely older people with no integrity, hell, just look at our prisons; but I believe that the younger ones can be saved. If they’re anything like me, at 18 or even 20 years old, they have no idea who they truly are. This is a time to make a last ditch effort to really show them right from wrong and the consequences for both. It’s a formative time that can really be used to mold them into upstanding adults and, although I know it’s not in my job description, I try to help out with that when I can.
An even better time to instill a good moral center is, obviously, as children are growing. It’s a great time to teach them their alphabet and the colors and animals, but it seems that parents tend to forget the meatier parts of parenting: making sure your kid doesn’t grow up to be a complete societal waste. That’s why I will, until the day I die, dedicate my life to making sure that my children know right from wrong and all of the grey areas in between. I’m going to make sure that they understand that no matter what you do in life, positive or negative, there are consequences and some of these consequences you have to live with for the remainder of your days on this planet.
All I want is for people the really think and consider their actions before jumping into a vat of stupidity. Make sure that what you are prepared to do is the smartest thing you think you should be doing and also, make sure that it truly aligns with your moral compass. There will always be slip ups, mistakes, and even the occasional ignoring of your smarter self and that’s fine as long as you realize this and realize why it’s a negative instead of a positive. It’s perfectly acceptable to mess up as long as you understand why you messed up and you learn from it and try not to make the same moves again.
Live your life with integrity and always strive to make you, and those around you, better because you stick to your moral center and because of your knowledge of right and wrong. If we pass these values down to our children, the future of our society will be in better hands than it is now.