I was speaking to a bunch of teenagers on this very topic – integrity. Their unanimous opinion was that integrity is a concept of the yesteryears. In today’s day and age one cannot survive if one chooses a path of integrity. After all who doesn’t bribe the officers to get his file passed on to the next table! Who doesn’t bribe the traffic policeman to escape the proceedings in case of a traffic violation! The handful who speak of and practice integrity, live a life of misery – running from pillar to post trying to get their work done or to get justice or to prove themselves. At the end of the day, how do the means matter? Once you achieve the end, that’s enough. What else does one need?
This is the thought of the budding youth of today!
Why talk of this bunch of adolescents alone? Many so-called experienced people also talk thus. So, then is the concept of integrity really redundant? Or is it still a practical virtue in this post-modern era?
Let’s be clear as to what integrity is. Integrity essentially consists of a basket of virtues – honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, fairness, selflessness, impartiality. Inculcating and practicing these virtues in today’s times is truly difficult – but not impossible as many think.
In the previous write-ups of this week, we have been reading about the importance of integrity and various instances in which people exemplify this virtue. Is it really important to be mindful of the path we take to fulfill our desires and achieve our goals? Or the mere fulfillment of our desires, irrespective of the path taken, satisfies us?
The path of integrity is a narrow and steep one. Hence, many find it repulsive. What then is the driving force behind living a life of integrity? The fear of God!
It’s easy to give excuses for our actions to people around. It’s easy to heap the blame for our actions on others. But, it’s impossible to wear a mask before God. God desires integrity in our thoughts, words and actions. And, all of us have to give an account before the judgment throne of God one day. Our actions on earth have eternal consequences – they simply do not end here. A life of integrity is pleasing in the sight of God – much more than our offerings and religious rituals.
Integrity can exist without the fear of God, but will not thrive long. Just as every fountain has an unseen underground source, integrity is a virtue that is visible to others but at its root lies a fear of God within. Hence, the first step to leading a life of integrity is to develop a fear of God.