The meaning of this word once defined major parts of most societies around the world. It stood for an almost iron clad guarantee of correct processes, sales, contracts, gentlemen’s agreements, and more.
Today this word is virtually unknown because it has literally lost its meaning. Most of society is only interested in the “me” strategy. Looking after number one at the cost of everything else.
As a simple example. I recently sold a motorbike I no longer needed, and several people enquired about it, until finally, someone offered me a price which I was happy with. We made a gentleman’s agreement and he went away to get the money. While he was away, I received a call from another prospective buyer who offered me a better price. I told him that I had already made an agreement to sell the motorbike. He asked me if I had received the money, to which I replied that I had not yet received the money. At this point I was told to ‘ditch’ the current buyer in favour of him. I responded that I had made an agreement with the previous caller, which meant, in my mind, that the bike was sold. The guy tried again to persuade me to change my mind. At this point I ended the conversation, as I realised that the person on the other end of the line lacked integrity.
A simple but powerful example of how people no longer have integrity.
Another major example of a lack of integrity are the everyday examples we see, and feel, of corruption in countries around the world. People who the populations of countries trust with their security, finances, economies, infrastructure, healthcare etc…, are seeing the money they pay in taxes and services being “stolen” sometimes blatantly, by the very people they have put their trust in.
As I write this article, The USA is awash with incidents of officers of the law, who I might add, should be of the highest integrity due to the positions they hold in society, being caught in various situations, whether it be on camera, on audio, or by entrapment, killing, raping, beating, tazering, stealing from, and intimidating citizens, illegally, and then concocting lies, and stories to cover themselves. These are people in positions of privilege within our society, and as such should be of the highest integrity.
Another example, and although this has been happening for many years, the more recent incidents of high profile sportsmen and women who have been caught ‘doping,’ has again illustrated a ‘win at all costs’ /’lack of integrity’ mentality. This is done by ‘unlevelling the playing field’ to give oneself an unfair advantage over ones fellow competitors. The current scandal with the Russian Athletics Federation, is just the latest in a long line of ‘cheating’
Ben Johnson, Marian Jones, Lance Armstrong, are among the 3 top profile sportsmen who have shown that winning is more important than integrity.
We are surrounded everyday by people, companies, and institutions who have totally forgotten the meaning of this word.
How do we get it back? The simple answer is: we can’t. The stakes are too high now.