Against the holy status of “Integrity”

Do you find this as singularly most desirable quality and everyone must possess it? Of course, you do. Integrity is, in fact, one of the most sought after core values of every organization and individuals. Its a quality celebrating a self-imposed honesty and having unbreakable moral principles. It is one of your qualities, under which you act on something even when no one is looking. Very admirable indeed. Potentially this can render a role of “looking after” redundant. Aka auditors! Agreed. It makes a lot of sense to have it part of Organization’ culture. But how about this for an individual? It’s the same quality you are expected to mention in the very first paragraph of your resume.

I do agree for most part of it, but I do have second thoughts about how it is professed. Let me explain.

Integrity, by definition, is having strong moral principles and sticking to them uncompromised. But the tricky part here is the word ‘moral’. Generally speaking, the moral aspect is highly relative to context, person and organization. It’s controversial as well. Your morals are obviously different from morals of your peers, your colleagues, your neighbour and even your family members. It also changes with the region, religion, era, nation and so on.

For these reasons, attaching morals to Integrity is always problematic. How do you ever keep with Integrity when its fundamental pillar is a variable? Let me put it differently. Integrity is supposed to be consistent with “what you do against what you say“. This ‘what you say‘ part is not necessarily the “right thing to do” does it?

But hey, it is still its Integrity!.

Let me give an example, and it will all be clear to you.

For example, an African Family emigrated to Europe due to the political, religious, or even tribal instability in their native nation. While this, they carry their cultural baggage to their new country. As a recent trend, they are not interested in assimilation into the new culture. It’s just the benefit they are interested in. This family has been practicing FGM for hundreds of years, and they believe it is one of their mandatory core believes. Non-compliance of this would be a failure of their part damaging cultural and moral fabric. Now, I do not have a track of countries in Europe allows this, let’s assume none. Lows are there against FGM, unsurprisingly for the very reason – ‘moral’. Let’s suppose that the family manages to find an underground doctor and gets FGM done for their European born kid. Now by definition, it is indeed their Integrity. They followed their moral values to the letter and hence undeniably shown Integrity.

So yes, Integrity is an admirable and necessary quality to have. But what is more important, in my opinion, is knowledge and acting on “the right thing to do.”

Thoughts? Please do write your thoughts in the comments section below.

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