Say what you mean, and mean what you say

(Photo credit Forbes.com)

(Photo credit Forbes.com)

in•teg•ri•ty

noun in-ˈte-grə-tē
: the quality of being honest and fair
: the state of being complete or whole

I pretty much live my life in a perpetual state of observation and I have been reflecting quite a bit lately on the state of the world. In general, I tend to have an optimistic view of the world. I believe to my core that every human being is divinely created with the spark of the Creator himself, and therefore every human being deserves to be treated with the respect that a creation of God’s would inherently deserve. Yes, I said God. But you are welcome to refer to this source of power, this magnificence, as Nature, Jesus, Allah, Universe, or whatever suits you. In the end, each is of the same core principles derived from love, unity, and peace. You might ask, “Well how do you explain all of the evil in the world? How do you explain a child molester or a murder? How do you explain domestic violence and abuse?” and the list of questions can go on and on. Do I believe there is “evil” in the world? The simple answer is yes, but not in the way most might imagine. . . I will explain what I mean by that a little bit further in this post.

During the course of my reflections something dawned on me: perpetrators do share a common denominator to some degree. Those who perpetrate crimes and abuses on others lack the fundamental quality and characteristic of integrity. It is quite possible that what keeps some on track in life, while others stray far, is this simple concept: what we are on the inside must match what we present on the outside and both must be in alignment with the greater good the majority of time. A person living with integrity is a person who is whole or complete. Let’s take a real-life example, and I’m not choosing a man vs. a woman to make any type of statement. I just feel most people can understand these scenarios.

what-are-good-leadership-traits-integrity-1024x819

A man presents himself to the world as a religious leader, traditionally identified by his garb. He treats his wife and family with kindness, deals honestly and openly with others in business and in life, weighs his words, and seeks out ways to help others. When he does make mistakes or faults in some way, he takes immediate ownership of it and does not seek to blame others. This is a man who is living with integrity. Others can and do count on him to be available in a certain way. There is consistency to his presentation as a person. People grow to trust that he is solid in his character and as such will make decisions in his life based upon his value system which is internally guided by a moral compass. The individual that God sees—and God sees every moment of thought and action in every life—is essentially the same individual that others see.

Now let’s look at the opposite. A man presents himself to the world as a religious leader, dresses as such, etc. He leads a congregation, appears to help people or maybe actually does, he seems to have a lovely family and he works hard to provide. He may even initially appear to be righteous to most. However, this same man, upon arrival to his home, curses his wife, maybe hits the children. Perhaps he makes inappropriate advances to women. Or perhaps, as we have become more aware of lately, in the context of his job as a leader with access to children, decides this is his opportunity to take advantage of his position as an authority and perpetrate some type of abuse. Yet another scenario is a religious leader who steals and cheats in business but wouldn’t miss a prayer session. The disparity is clear: the clothes, appearance, and actions of the man on the outside are superficial and are in direct contradiction to the thoughts, actions, and behaviors of this same man when he is either alone or in position to act out of the public eye. When the truth of his core is ultimately revealed—and it will always be revealed at some point because Truth always prevails through the course of time (notice I did not say Justice always prevails . . . there is a difference), then he will do what he needs to to protect his outer image. He will lie, place blame, and deny any wrong-doing. There is no integrity in this man, a faulty moral compass guiding him, and no consistency between his outer world and his inner world. The lack of integrity in a person is essentially the sign of a “broken” person. Sometimes this “brokenness” can be healed with therapy or medication, and sometimes not. The one thing that is clear is that a person without integrity is a person who puts himself and others at risk for a wide range of traumatic experiences.

I choose to use a religious figure as an example because it is obvious—a religious leader tends to look, sound, and act in a certain expected way in a position of leadership. However, when integrity is lacking, the contrast between appearances and actions can be quite shocking. The truth is, it can be any man or woman who presents in one way and yet acts, thinks, and speaks in another. Each of you knows people who have integrity, and those who do not. We know that there is a feeling of betrayal when someone we respect and admire shows his or her lack of integrity. But let’s jump back to something I mentioned earlier . . . how does “evil” play in to all of this?

tea light candle

If each person has a spark of God within, then it would seem impossible for any human being to be inherently evil. In many religions, we know that God is represented by a force of Light—by the life-force itself. So that inner spark within each living person must also be Light. So where does the darkness come from? Why and how do we perceive evil and how does this mesh with integrity? When we look at a fruit or a nut, it has an outer covering. It has a skin or a shell. In order for that divine inner Light—the delicious edible fruit or seed—to be revealed, the outer skin or shell must be peeled away or removed. It is the same with people: each person has that spark hidden within; just some have many layers over it or perhaps a thicker, denser skin to peel back layer by layer. Therefore, a person acting without integrity, or someone perceived as “evil”, is no less a creation of God, but has fundamental issues to clear prior to the outer-self reflecting the deeper inner goodness. For some this can take months or years. For others, multiple life-times. However one thing is clear: without the conscious decision of a person to want to live with integrity, nothing will change. And this brings me to my final thought.

It is not the lack of religious practice in our world that prevents an enlightenment for humanity, it is the lack of integrity that does. If each person took it upon him or herself to match their outer world with their inner world to align with the greater good the majority of time, in essence to become whole and complete, we could change the world by changing ourselves. This is not a fairy tale: The concepts that I am writing about here are deeply grounded in a variety of ancient texts and universal principles. What I wish is for each of us to strive to live with integrity, to feel a sense of wholeness, and to watch how the impact of this could potentially create miracles for the world.

As always, blessings to you and remember to be a lighthouse for others.
Much love,
Mia

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