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Visions Of Hope: Integrity

William Sykes considers the quality of absolute integrity and trustworthyness.

Integrity—wholeness; soundness; uprightness, honesty, purity


Shortly after returning from our expedition to Nepal, one of the members, David Bloomer, put me in touch with a book entitled Edward Wilson of the Antarctic by George Seaver. Edward Wilson was the doctor on Scott's expedition to the Antarctic in 1910. He was a man of deep religious convictions, and at an early age, during his medical studies, spent time in the slums of Battersea teaching aspects of faith to young children. He had an intense love of the countryside and developed into a sensitive artist, committing to paper what he observed in nature. In the pages of this book I was confronted with the finest character I have ever come across. Throughout his life he was solid and dependable. Scott wrote of him that he was shrewdly practical, intensely loyal and quite unselfish. He knew and understood people, more deeply than most. He had a quiet sense of humour and was modest and unassuming in his relationships. Always discreet and tactful, he was given over to kindness and friendship. He was a man of many parts—a skilful doctor as well as a zoologist. Some members of the expedition thought of him as the real leader, but he was staunchly loyal to Scott. His courage and bravery were outstanding features of his character and personality. In short, he was a man of integrity and absolutely trustworthy.


He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart; who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbour; in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honours those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
Psalm 15:2-5

The integrity of the upright guides them.
Proverbs 11:3

... by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left, in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true.
2 Corinthians 6:6-8

For a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant, or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled.
Titus 1:7-8

What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
William Shakespeare, II King Henry VI, III. ii. 232
The only drama that really interests me and that I should always be willing to depict anew is the debate of the individual with whatever keeps him from being authentic, with whatever is opposed to his integrity, to his integration. Most often the obstacle is within him. And all the rest is merely accidental.
Andre Gide, The Journals of Andre Gide, translated by Justin O'Brien, Seeker & Warburg, 1947, page 116

One person with integrity, even living the most private life, affects the entire behaviour of the universe. That is God's promise, and it is among modern psycho¬logy's great lessons. But the converse is also true. So with each of us empowered with this awesome ability, will we dare be less than as fully Christians as we can?
Harry James Cargas, Encountering Myself, SPCK, 1978, page 67

By integrity I do not mean simply sincerity or honesty; integrity rather according to the meaning of the word as its derivation interprets it—entireness—wholeness— soundness: that which Christ means when He says, 'If thine eye be single or sound, thy whole body shall be full of light.'
This integrity extends through the entireness or wholeness of the character. It is found in small matters as well as great; for the allegiance of the soul to truth is tested by small things rather than by those which are more important.
F.W. Robertson, Sermons, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1907, First Series, page 286

If we could adapt ourselves more to the life of God within us we would be more able to adapt ourselves to the will of God as expressed all about us. We are unyielding in outward things only because we have not fully yielded to inward ones. The integrated soul, the man who has broken down the barriers of selfishness and is detached from his own will, is ready to meet every circumstance however suddenly presented and however apparently destructive, fortuitous, unreasonable, and mad.
Hubert van Zeller, Leave Your Life Alone, Sheed and Ward, 1973, page 109

Let your actions speak; your face ought to vouch for your speech. I would have virtue look out of the eye, no less apparently than love does in the sight of the beloved. I would have honesty and sincerity so incorporated with the constitution, that it should be discoverable by the senses, and as easily distinguished as a strong breath, so that a man must be forced to find it out whether he would or no... In short, a man of integrity, sincerity, and good-nature can never be concealed, for his character is wrought into his countenance.
Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated by Jeremy Collier, Walter Scott, page 186

The integrated man, who looks at the world with adult eyes, is able to say: 'This is where I belong, and this is the time which belongs to me to use or misuse. I am a member of a clan which has grown up with me and from which I have much to learn. I have need primarily to lean on God but I shall need, too, the support of my fellow men. If I think myself to be above others in experience and maturity, I am, in fact,
below them and have not even begun to live. There is no fulness of life without humility, and there is no humility that is not taught of God.'
Hubert van Zeller, Leave Your Life Alone, Sheed and Ward, 1973, page 102

Who is the honest man?
He that doth still and strongly good pursue,
To God, his neighbour, and himself most true:
Whom neither force nor fawning can
Unpinne, or wrench from giving all their due...
Who rides his sure and even trot,
While the world now rides by, now lags behinde...
All being wrought into a summe,
What place or person calls for,—he doth pay...
Who, when he is to treat
With sick folks, women, those whom passions sway,
Allows for that, and keeps his constant way:
Whom others faults do not defeat;
But though men fail him, yet his part doth play.
Whom nothing can procure,
When the wide world runs bias from his will,
To writhe his limbes, and share, not mend the ill.
This is the Mark-man, safe and sure,
Who still is right, and prays to be so still.
George Herbert, 'The Church, Constancie', in The Poems of George Herbert, Oxford University Press, 1979, page 63

People must be able to trust their leaders. They want to feel that their interests are safe in the leader's hands—that he will not betray them, or sell out, or get tired of serving them. They want to be confident that he is not going to offend them or their sense of the fitness of things by conduct unbecoming to the position he holds or inconsistent with the esteem in which he is held. They want to feel a sense of solidity, of honesty, of reliability. 'We can trust him' and 'he keeps his promises' are tributes he must have earned...
In short, they want their leader to possess integrity. Integrity orginally means wholeness. The leader who can attain within himself a unity or wholeness of drive and outlook will possess integrity. The acquiring of this quality is thus no little thing, and the process requires no minor adjustments. It is a major problem of the whole life philosophy and character of the individual. It is a question of the leader's capacity to be loyal to the basic demand for loyalty itself.
OrdwayTead, The Art of Leadership, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1935, page 111

The least to be required of those who judge a particular set of doctrines, is that they should accept them in the sense in which they were understood by the teacher. But he understood his teaching, not as a far-fetched ideal of humanity, the fulfilment of which was impossible, not as a visionary poetical fancy with which to captivate the simple-minded folk of Galilee. To him, his teaching meant life; actual work which should save the life of man. It was no dreamer who hung on the Cross, to suffer, to die for his teaching. In the same way many others have died and still will die. It cannot be said of such teaching that it is a dream of the fancy.
All teaching of the truth is fanciful to those who stray from it. We have come to this, that many (and I myself was of their number) say, 'This teaching is visionary because it is unsuited to man's nature. It is against man's nature,' they say, 'when he
is beaten on one cheek to turn the other, unnatural to work not for ourselves but for others. It belongs to a man,' they say, 'to take care of himself, of his own safety and of that of his family, to defend his property; in other words, it is natural for a man to fight for his existence. Learned jurists logically prove that the most sacred duty of man is to defend his rights; that is to say, to fight.'
The moment, however, we dismiss the thought that the existing conditions of society as made by men are the best and most sacred of which human life is capable, the objection—that the teaching of Jesus is opposed to man's nature immediately becomes an argument against the objectors. Who will dispute that to torture a dog, to kill a hen or a calf, much more to torture and kill a man, is contrary and painful to man's nature? I have known men to abstain from meat because they had themselves to kill the animals. Meanwhile human society is so constituted, that not a single personal good is obtained without the sufferings of others, and these sufferings are repugnant to our human nature.
The whole system of our social life, the complicated mechanism of our varied institutions, which all have violence for their aim, bear witness to the degree to which violence is contrary to human nature. Not a single judge will consent to strangle with a rope the man he has condemned to death in his court. No one of high rank will consent to snatch a peasant from his weeping family and shut him up in prison. No general, nor soldier, save in obedience to discipline, to his oath, and in time of war, would kill hundreds of Turks or Germans and destroy their villages; he could not so much as wound one of them.
These things are due to that complicated machinery of Society and the State, which makes it its first business to destroy the feeling of responsibility for such deeds, so that no man shall feel them to be as unnatural as they are. Some make laws, others apply them. Others again train men and educate them in the habit of discipline, in the habit, that is to say, of senseless and irresponsible obedience. Again others, and these are the best trained of all, practise every kind of violence, even to the slaying of men, without the slightest knowledge of the why and where¬fore. We need only clear our minds for an instant from the network of human institutions in which we are entangled, to feel how adverse it all is to our true nature.
Leo Tolstoy, What I Believe ('My Religion'), C.W. Daniel, 1922, page 45


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