The Creed - Integrity

This post talks about one attribute of The Firekeepers Creed.  But the entire creed consists of five attributes.  Just as a hand works by using all fingers, the Creed works by using all five attributes.  They are:

Attribute: Integrity Correlated with: the index/pointer finger

Integrity -- I have Integrity.

Integrity is attitude, decency, and diligence; fairness, honor, and honesty; trustworthiness, courage, and work ethic.

In public and in private, I live with integrity.

It took some Latin to make me feel better about how hard it was to write a few words on integrity.  Not Ricky Martin Latin.  Roman Empire Latin.

The word integrity is related to the words integrate, integral, and even integer.  Those words all have their root in the Latin word for wholeness, or to make whole.

No wonder it’s so difficult to capture the idea of integrity in a few words. If it’s about the whole of a person...  I mean, dang, you can’t capture or convey the whole of a person using a lifetime of photographs, sculpture, music, poetry, and paintings, let alone a few words!

Integrity is the sum of many, many parts.

Some of those parts are the following...

Attitude

There’s the letter of the law.  And there’s the spirit of the law which operates behind it, and inspires it.

Someone can follow the letter of the law and “do the right thing,” but if they do so in a bad spirit -- a bad attitude -- or with cruel or injurious intent, they are no longer doing “the right thing” at all.

Your spirit matters.  Attitude matters.

And it takes a strong, mature spirit to do what has to be done sometimes: bring yourself to have a genuinely better attitude.

...for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
— 2 Corinthians 3:6
Sometimes life’s Hell. But hey! Whatever gets the marshmallows toasty.
— J. Andrew Helt

Attitude includes humility, affability, hospitality, cooperation, and team spirit.

A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.- Oscar Wilde

Attitude is a part of integrity.

Decency

Please. Thank You. Learn it. Love it. Or be disappointed.
— C.M. Punk

Decency shows respect for those around you.   It’s caring enough to know and to show good manners.  We show decency when we tend to another person's comfort without imposing on them.  We are decent when we try to put them at ease.  Decency conveys to people that they are valuable to us, not necessarily because they’re family or friends, but because they’re fellow human beings.

To practice good manners is to confer upon others not just consideration but esteem; it’s to bathe others in a commodity best described by noted speller Aretha Franklin.
— Henry Alford

Decency is a part of integrity.

Diligence

Diligence is a very specific type of work ethic.

It’s the worker bee, not the queen bee.  It’s the grunt, not the celebrity.

  • Diligence keeps going for a short walk at every lunch break, even though the weight loss hasn’t shown yet.
  • Diligence saves a little from each paycheck, even though the amount seems insignificant.
  • Diligence is quiet and private, and is faithful to keep on keeping on.

You know movies like Rocky or The Karate Kid, where fist-pumping music plays while our hero trains -- suiting up, jogging, perspiration, wax on wax off, crane kick, beautiful sunset, more sweat -- and it takes like, what, 2 minutes onscreen?  If you take out the fist-pumping music, and stretch the 2 minutes into something like two months or two years or more, that’s diligence.

Once you glamorize it, it’s not exactly diligence anymore.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it’s the day-to-day living that wears you out.
— Anton Chekov

Plain mundane diligence is a part of integrity.

Fairness

The word fair used to mean pleasing or attractive.  As in, My Fair Lady.

When something is pleasing and attractive, it is so because it’s appropriate.

That’s what makes something beautiful.  Just the appropriate proportions, just the appropriate placement, or lighting, or word.

This is true in art and in matters of integrity.

Fairness is having a sense of what is appropriate and right in the circumstances.

Fairness doesn’t treat everyone the same way.  That’s impartiality, not fairness.  Fairness treats everyone as an individual, according to their particular circumstance.

When boxing tournaments have weight classes, and triathlons have age groups, they’re trying to be fair.

Nothing can be truly great, which is not right.
— Samuel Johnson
Play fair.
— Robert Fulgham

Fairness is a part of integrity.

Honor

Honor is not exactly a virtue, and not exactly fairness.

Honor is like a substance, a kind of social and spiritual currency.

You can earn honor, receive honor, and you can have honor taken or stolen from you.

Honor is the reputation and strength behind your name.  It’s built from your speech and actions, the choices you’ve made, and what others say about you.

[Honor is]...The unity of inner virtue with the natural order of reason, the innate desire of man for the good, and the happy congruence of inner virtue with outward, public action.
— Bertram Wyatt-Brown
Honor is the value of a person in his own eyes, but also in the eyes of his society. It is his estimation of his own worth, his claim to pride, but it is also the acknowledgment of that claim, his excellence recognized by society, his right to pride.
— Julian Pitt-Rivers

Honor is a part of integrity.

Honesty

Honesty is more than just telling the truth.

It's telling the truth with fairness and decency.

There are actually plants that people started to call honesty in the sixteenth century because their seed casings are translucent.  This symbolizes a lack of deceit.  But while the casings reveal the seeds within, they do so while still protecting them.

It's a beautiful picture of the highest form of honesty: truth-telling that aims for the good of all concerned.

It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.
— Noel Coward
I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
— George Washington

Honesty is a part of integrity.

Trustworthiness

...at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.
— Sara Gruen

Our word trust comes from an Old Norse word that meant strong.  If you were strong, you could be trusted.

Trustworthiness is the strength of your character.

Just like a physical muscle, if the fiber of your character is trained, if you are called upon -- by yourself or others -- to fulfill promises and responsibilities, or keep confidences of increasing scope and importance, your internal fortitude grows and you become more reliable, more dependable.  You become strong inwardly.

You become trustworthy.

I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.
— Ulysses S. Grant

Trustworthiness is a part of integrity.

Courage

The thing about courage is: it never gets easy or effortless.

If it’s easy, it’s not courage anymore.

Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.
— Eddie Rickenbacker

Our word courage comes from words in Old French and Latin that meant heart, as in the seat of feelings.

Courage is about having enough heart, passion, and grit to act deliberately in the face of fear.

Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things.
— Amelia Earhart
Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.
— Aristotle

Courage is a part of integrity.

Work Ethic

The reward for a job well done is a bigger job.

There are three benefits of a good work ethic.

  1. It toughens you up
  2. It gives you more confidence
  3. It increases your respect and appreciation for others and their work
The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.
— Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit / Navy SEALs saying
Any necessary work that pays an honest wage carries its own honor and dignity.
— W. Kelly Griffith
Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.
— Mark Rippetoe

Work ethic is a part of integrity.

In public and in private, I live with integrity.

As I said at the beginning of this article, the word integrity refers to wholeness.  A building that has integrity doesn’t just have a flashy facade and an impressive sign out front, it’s strong behind the drywall, too.  True integrity means living your values in such a way that it permeates your whole life.

It’s a high standard.  And it’s a battle we’re all fighting.  This battle can’t be won through brute willpower alone.  I believe it takes the grace and mercy of the Great Spirit, and an intimate partnership with this Spirit to truly win and triumph.

It’s in the private, unseen life of our heart and mind that we experience meaning, fulfillment, pride, and deep satisfaction in our lives and with ourselves -- or the emptiness and regret of only wishing for those things.

Most of the time, there's no fanfare, applause, celebrity, or prize for having integrity.

Most of the time, your great reward for living with integrity is knowing that you live with integrity.

That’s all.

But that’s everything.

...and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
— from Matthew chapter 6

Live the Creed

-Toast

The Creed - Integrity
The Creed - Integrity