"In all this world there is no substitute for personal integrity. It includes honor. It includes performance. It includes keeping one's word. It includes doing what is right regardless of the circumstances" -Gordon B. Hinckley
I’ve chosen to focus on Integrity next for a couple of reasons, one being that it is what I consider to be an attribute above all else….the mother of all values, if you will. It is also an attribute that is severely lacking in today’s society. Doing what’s right is seldom given much fanfare…especially when it’s done for no other reason than because it’s the right thing to do….but ultimately, this is the only reason to do what’s right.
Integrity denotes an adherence to an uncompromising moral code and it walks hand in hand with honesty, along with every other virtue I plan on addressing here. It is defining for ourselves what is right and what is wrong and then refusing to sway from those convictions. Without integrity any concept of a code of behavior is lost because it becomes merely words without meaning or corresponding actions.
We’re often presented with the image of women as whimsical creatures who are apt (and entitled) to changing their minds at the drop of the hat. This characteristic is portrayed as somewhat cute and endearing. I suppose if we’re talking about a penchant for rearranging the furniture this might hold true but it tends to extend into all aspects of our lives to the extent of frequently compromising our integrity and calling into question our ability to commit and be trusted.
Women tend to expect to be excluded from honoring their commitments and obligations because, as women, they reserve the right to change their mind. How many men are given the unattested option to change their mind to the detriment on others? Can they walk away from the wives they marry, the children they help create, the obligations they’ve taken on free from judgment or negative consequences simply because they’ve changed their minds?
Of course not, and they shouldn’t be able to either….but neither should we. Personally, I would rather die than compromise my integrity. There’s only so much that I have sole ownership of and complete control over. My integrity is one of these things. It is what defines me and I refuse to ever give that up.
That being said, how do we wish to define ourselves? Do we want to be fickle in nature? Do we surrender our integrity for the ability to avoid being someone who can be depended on simply to reserve the right to change our minds?
Growing up, I was often told the story of a young man who went in his father’s stead to conduct a business transaction. When the discussion came to matters of payment, he was told not to worry, for it was well known that his father’s word was as good as his bond. This is who we should be. This above all is what is important….that we be the kind of people who encompass trustworthiness, honesty and accountability.
A quote I’m quite fond of is “Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching”. When we have integrity we do what is right simply because it’s who we are and how we choose to define ourselves. We desire to do what’s right and we don’t accept anything less from ourselves, regardless of the circumstances. We don’t fall into the trap that we as women have made for ourselves….our selective morality where we’re able to rationalize away responsibility for our commitments. We stand up and say this is who we are, this is who we’ve decided to be….women of integrity and, as such, we cannot be anything less.