I am far from perfect. Far, far, far from perfect. There's me, sitting on this stool at my kitchen counter, click-clacking away, and perfect is somewhere, I reckon, near Pluto. Or maybe through a wormhole and in another dimension. Did you see "Interstellar"? Perfect may be on one of those planets, where an hour is equivalent to seven years.
The perfect I'm referencing here is internal – personal perfect – not external, not the perfect home or the perfect car or the perfect haircut or the perfect outfit or the perfect makeup or the perfect whatever, but rather, how I exist in the world, how I interact with others, how I conduct myself, how I treat those around me as well as myself.
The Golden Rule is an exquisitely simple life philosophy, so I try to keep that in mind each day. Turns out, it's pretty simple to not behave in ways that would make me feel shitty. And I am a big fan of not feeling shitty and also of simple things.
I am paring back my life in many ways (even as I've been giving in to my nesting instincts of late). Some things really do require me to add to my possessions – I realized yesterday that my favorite knock-around pair of gym shoes are so bald on the bottom that I really should avoid tile floors – but for the most part, I want less. (The tiny-home movement fascinates me, though I'm not quite ready to live in 100-some square feet.)
And a part of that lack of materialism means that I'm not very much interested in money. Yes, I need it. And I'm learning some very interesting things of late about my relationship with it and how and when it shows up in my life and when and why it doesn't. But the pursuit of money in and of itself holds no appeal for me. I've never wanted to be worth X amount by Y date. Money does not equate to worth in my world. Money is a tool.
But there are others who do not share my thinking. And the pursuit of money, to my mind, drives them to do some shitty, shitty things.
Which brings me to the title of this post: Whither Integrity?
"Whither," if you're wondering (and weren't an English major), means "To what state?"
Or, put another way: what the hell happened to integrity? Where'd it go?
I've been thinking about it a lot of late, thinking about how fundamental it is, how foundational.
Without it, does anything else matter?
If you have to step on people to get where you're going, can you appreciate the destination?
Maybe some people can. Maybe some people lack fully developed consciences. Maybe some people just don't give a shit. Maybe some people are able to justify their behavior to themselves for the sake of their bottom lines. Maybe some people really can sleep soundly each night and look themselves in the mirror each morning.
Or maybe they can't but they don't realize it just yet. Maybe the day will arrive when they'll be aware of how they've behaved, the pain they've caused, the terrible trade-off they've made.
And then what? Is integrity recoverable? Renewable? Or is it a one-way street? Once you've sacrificed it, is it gone forever?
I guess it depends on your sphere, how willing others might be to forgive you, how willing others might be to give you a second chance. It's a tough proposition: if you screw someone who trusted you, how can they ever know that you won't screw them again? What if screwing people is simply your nature?
But then, what of those who've been wronged? Their guards go up, rightfully so. But how unfortunate. It's a double violation: the betrayal and then the guardedness, though at least the response is in their control. Still, how very human to trust a little less the next time. How very human and how very sad. For all of us.
Mistakes happen, sure. But malice? To willfully hurt someone? To sacrifice something so meaningful for something so fleeting?
That, I don't understand.