What Does It Mean To Be A People of Integrity?
My Soul Matters colleague, Katy Covie explains how children use experimentation to figure out what’s right and wrong. How many of us working with young children have seen 3 year-olds try out biting, to strong feedback from the victim and adults? They learn immediately that biting is not acceptable. Think about all the times you tested as a child or youth – lying to gain praise, shoplifting.
Katy quotes C.S. Lewis explanation of integrity “Doing the right thing when no one is watching.” Most of us growing up tried out doing the wrong thing, hoping no one was watching. None of us were extraordinarily bad – just curious and a bit creative.
And that’s the spirit our Soul Matters partners and I hope pervades your experience this month: curiosity and creativity. Katy explains that too often integrity is framed in terms of good and bad people, of people knowing what’s right and either following or ignoring it. But we know that it’s more complicated than that. Doing “the right thing” is rarely clearly cut. Every situation is different, and complicated. So it requires curiosity and creativity to sort it out. Maybe what our children need most is adults who talk with them about “the adventure of integrity” more than “adherence to integrity.”
Katie suggests that in addition to curiosity and creativity, we can use honesty and self-examination is part of your journey this month. For instance, we Religious Professionals are learning about truths we wish didn’t exist but needs to be remembered. Many of us usually crow about all the Unitarians and Universalists in our history and how they changed the world. Well, Millard Fillmore, 13th U.S. President and Unitarian, has a birthday this month. He is known for being the President who signed the Fugitive Slave Act into being and “had no problem allying with rabid bigots” just before the Civil War. It’s a reminder that integrity requires admitting our imperfection and being much more humble – and maybe accountable for – our history.
This month we hope that you connect with “the adventure of integrity.” When we take the path of curiosity or honesty, there is deep joy in re-connecting with your deepest and truest selves. May that joy be yours as travel through this month and start the New Year!
In joyful service,