The quality of integrity is strained

It's okay to doubt our integrity and that of our leaders. Some soul-searching builds character and shines a light on our failings


Allan Jacob

Published: Wed 23 Sep 2020, 9:48 AM

Last updated: Wed 23 Sep 2020, 11:52 AM

Some honest quests begin with the right intentions but drift from the truth. We humans are not born morally corrupt, we are not bankrupt of the virtue either; we only need time to grow into goodness nurtured in integrity, so cut us some slack. 
It is an integral part of our system, yet we lose our way in the pursuit of power and wealth. Many shed it to poverty and a life of servitude. The choices are few when there is no deliverance in sight and justice is another word that is bandied by criminals.
I loved my colleague's writing on the virtues of integrity, but I humbly disagree with the moral high ground she wants every person and leader to take. Integrity is made to sound like a fancy pursuit of aspirational value when it is the base for a higher morality that is steep and unattainable for mere mortals. For me, integrity does not demand the spotlight, it need not be worn as a badge of honour, it is down to earth and passes no judgement on the otherhood of man and woman.
Now you may ask, "What is the truth (about this integrity)?" like Pontius Pilate. I can assure you that I haven't found it. My experiments have been flawed, but I haven't given up on the virtue either. I shall attempt to be truthful (and faithful) to the virtue without casting aspersions on the nature and scope of integrity.
And it makes me wonder: are we getting ahead of ourselves with our love of ideals and a futile search for idealists amongst us and our leaders? Every human has the light within them yet we are fearful of baring our weaknesses as we embrace the wokeness that is diverting our attention from the goodness that resides within us.
I seek more realists and pragmatists, practical do-gooders than those stuck in dogmatic ideas and constrained by ideology. Idealists are aspirants to greatness through the veneer of integrity. For me, integrity comes with great humility, a virtue that I am convinced I shall not achieve. It stems from conscience and reasoning that sets one free from the trappings of the virtual avatars and zombies that we have become.
What I shall say may leave some disappointed and struggling to get a grasp on reality as it were. Let me, therefore, be daring in this endeavour - the quality of integrity is strained. The quest may often leave one disappointed, saddened, and unsure about the course life is taking. 
Our wokeness that is derived from the surge of data-driven information is not the awakening we have been craving for. It is merely undermining our honesty and integrity. We have begun to doubt ourselves and others because we are being viewed through the data spectrum and numbers that put a figure on our fealty. Integrity is therefore a selfish virtue and its pursuit leaves us drained and desperate.
My colleague mentions Abraham Lincoln and his much-touted honesty. Abe's decision to abolish slavery was more political than one based on integrity. If Lincoln hadn't acted, he risked a longer civil war and an assault on the presidency from the Confederates down South. Lincoln took was a calculated political risk, a gamble, that changed the course of American history and made the Republicans a potent force in American politics.
'Honest' Abe took the moral and practical high ground and galvanised Republicans and Democrats to unite and free the South from the Confederates. It won him re-election in 1864 when the chips were down for his party. He later became a popular peacemaker who convinced the warring sides to lay down arms and join the Union. 
Was he an idealist? Perhaps. A man of integrity? Maybe. My reading of history says he was a practical and savvy statesman-politician who spoke well and redeemed what was a lost cause for the Grand Old Party. He would have become a social media star had he been alive today.
Finally, it's okay to doubt our integrity and that of our leaders. Some soul-searching builds character and shines a light on our failings. We will make the wrongs right, we shall fight the good fight but let's not make integrity a popularity contest.

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