Being the same inside and out; being true to oneself; standing up for what one believes is right—that’s what integrity is. Irish writer and scholar Clive Staples Lewis, best known for The Chronicles of Narnia, said “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking”.
When deciding whom to elect—whether for a barangay-level office or the presidency, integrity is one of the important qualities to look for in a candidate. When hiring employees, especially those who will have access to funds, integrity is also important.
Years ago, our Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) held an emergency meeting because some members of my son’s class were to be suspended for having disrespected one of their teachers. The students made discourteous remarks about a teacher in a closed group on social media. One parent made a screen cap and the faculty found out about it. We soon discovered that the PTA president and that teacher disagreed on something and it seemed like the parent (PTA president) was courting the students’ sympathy. She later said that it was a violation of their right to privacy, especially because it was a closed group.
At first, many of the parents agreed that privacy is a basic right and that it was wrong for that parent to read and later divulge the comments in that closed group. However, we pointed out that the comments were really disrespectful and that was at issue. I reminded them that if I had stolen something and nobody saw me do it, stealing remains wrong. They were being suspended for discourtesy and privacy had nothing to do with it. Indeed, “integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking”.
I am reminded of a young military officer’s answer when I asked how he would reconcile integrity and loyalty to his superior (and the corps) when he sees them err. He said, “Being loyal to my superiors means calling their attention once they begin to lose integrity.”
One needs a strong character to do what is right even if no one is looking. Embracing who or what we are and what we believe in helps strengthen character and allows us to do what is right whether or not we have witnesses. Our actions often reveal what we really value, so that there are times when what we say and do may not match. We ought to be careful with what we say and watch what we do.
Quoting C.S. Lewis once more: “Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.”
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.