Wikipedia (that solid font of wisdom, rofl), describes the ethical stance on integrity as follows:
Integrity is the concept of basing of one's actions on an internally consistent framework of principles.
Depth of principles and adherence of each level to the next are key factors. One
is said to have integrity to the extent that everything one does is derived from
the same core set of values.
While those values may change, their consistency with each other and with the
determine the degree of integrity.
integrity can be expressed as personal honesty: acting
according to one's beliefs and values at all times.
The term can emphasize the "wholeness" or "intactness" of a moral stance or
attitude (harking back wittingly or unwittingly to the etymological parallels of
the word in the Latin intactus, meaning
"untouched"). Relevant views of wholeness may also emphasize commitment and sincerity. Structural integrity
in engineering is derived from this concept.
Integrity can be seen as a virtue in that accountability and moral
responsibility are necessary tools for maintaining consistency between one's
actions and one's principles, methods and measures, especially when an expected
result appears incongruent with observed outcome.
To me, if the boys can form a strong structure of personal values and ethics - in the positive sense, not the negative - then they have a good chance at being happy people. Happiness, to me, is success, but only if it doesn't come at the cost of other people's happiness... Somewhat like the hypocratic oath, and the witch's creed, "First do no harm" or "Do as you will, but harm none".
Personal integrity needs a solid base of maturity - I was in my late 20s when I finally realised that in order to have integrity I also had to have awareness of other people, because my actions and words always impacted on others. This was not at all the same as bowing myself to others and forgoing my own needs, but that in fulfilling my own needs I also needed to be aware of the needs of other people.
Integrity is not easy.
I see a lot of lose integrity in the act of rewriting history, because the history that was is painful or embarrassing to them, but in doing so, not only do they try to fool themselves into believing that what happened didn't really happen the way it did, but in doing so they potentially make liars of other people, and may also set unrealistic standards for others...
For example, when I had Luey, I had an induction that I DEMANDED. The clinic OB was against the idea. He told me point blank that it was unnecessary to induce my baby at 39 weeks, even if he was bigger than "the average", and he added that the hospital only wanted what was best for my baby. These days, that is an inconvenient truth for me. I could so easily tell people the hospital bullied me into the induction at 40 weeks and 4 days, and I would get so much sympathy and support. I knew better, I knew my baby would come in his own time, but I was afraid, and I went with my fear. For the sake of personal integrity, I HAVE to be hoenst about this. I hope that being honest allows other women to speak about their own fears, for example.
I once knew a woman who wanted a third baby - this was several years ago - she told her close friends how badly she wanted this baby, and one day we were all in chat and she was telling us all about how she was going to seduce her husband, knowing he was never too concerned about contraception. A couple of weeks later, she announced her brand new pregnancy as an "Ooops" pregnancy, and then had the balls to actually accuse her partner of "refusing" to wear a condom. She was embarrassed at being pregnant again, even though she really wanted to be pregnant. There were quite a few of us who clearly remembered her telling us she was going to seduce him for the purposes of getting pregnant right on ovulation, and yet, she persisted with her "oops" story to US... It was frustrating. We were all too polite to call her on it, and really what would that have resolved anyway... She needed to rewrite history in order for it to sit well with her image of herself as a passive victim in the drama that continued to be her life for quite some time afterward.
You might think this kind of rewriting of history was fairly harmless, but what ended up happening was that her friends started to question their ability to trust what she said and did. If she felt the need to rewrite this bit of history, what else had she rewritten??? Eventually, she all the friends she'd had at that time, and at least one of those friends felt justified in playing part in the demise of this woman's relationship because she felt sorry for the woman's partner, who had been manipulated... It was very sad...
Karma bites back, I guess...
So, this is my very long winded way of saying that if there is one thing I really want my children to learn in this lifetime, it's to have personal integrity, to be honest with themselves about the things they value in life, and to be honest with other people about these values as well. People without personal integrity - from what I've witnessed in the past few years are basically very unhappy people.
What prompted me to write about this was something that happened at the boys' birthday party on Sunday. Each boy (Erik and Luey, that is) were made Captain of their own team in the dodgeball and soccer games... Now, even I would have expected them to be quite competitive about this, as they are quite competitve with one another as brothers, and so I was very pleasantly surprised when Dave told me that in picking their teams out of the children invited to the party, BOTH boys were careful to make sure they picked the smaller and austencibly "weaker" kids in the group. Each did this without any prompting, either from Dave or one another. To me, this is the first big sign of the fact they are developing personal integrity. They weren't only thinking "Who should I chose to help me win the games", but they were showing a real concern for making sure everyone felt included and valued, big or small, athletically inclined or not!
I'm so proud of my boys!!!