Thursday, 18 October 2007

The Value of Integrity

"The majority of adults are adolescents in adult bodies"

So said Dr. Edward Morler today on the Gary Doyle show on 570News. Gary was interviewing Dr. Morler about his book, The Leadership Integrity Challenge.

I haven't read the book, and frankly am completely unlikely to. But I'm not questioning the value of integrity, or even Dr. Morler's definition of it as "exercising spontaneous responsibility". I'm not disagreeing with the value of his book for those that read it. Its his broad conclusions that I have issue with. His conclusion is similar to the "society is morally bankrupt" mantra; all of the worlds problems, from genocide to global warming, can be attributed to a lack of integrity. In his view, the majority of adults do not exercise an appropriate level of integrity.

Listening to the interview and now writing this, causes my internal bullshit meter to go off the scale. Looking around, at the people I know, I have hard time saying "that person lacks integrity". I have one neighbor that runs a pyramid scheme that I have issues with, but other than that, nope. Most people I know have integrity, and exercise it appropriately. Actually, I ask myself, "Who am I to judge their choices?"

Dr. Morler stated that we lose our integrity because we make choices to avoid responsibilities. "Not my job", "Not my problem", etc. etc. Each time we use an excuse, we chip off a piece of ourselves, a piece of our integrity (spit, gag, puke).

Sorry, that doesn't wash. Yes, we make choices. That's called life. You can't take responsibility for everything. The stress'll kill you. A therapist I talked to made the claim that most GTA'ers are over-stressed and are over-burdened with responsibilities. Given that I was seeing him for stress counseling, I saw his point, and agreed with most of his conclusions.

Every day we have to make choices about what we can and cannot accomplish. If we accept responsibilities for all aspects of our lives, and how others intersect with those areas, we bury ourselves trying to be everything to everyone. I have to make choices between being a good husband, father, friend, son, employee, neighbor, citizen, etc. etc. etc. I have to prioritize my responsibilities, and sometimes they are at cross purposes with each other. Do I stay late and work on that project or do I go to my son's soccer game? Do I commute a long distance to work or do I move to a less safe community closer to the office? Do I increase my personal debt or do I keep that inefficient refrigerator another year?

Some choices are bigger than others, some impact's are direct, others are unseen. What Dr. Morler refuses to admit, is that all choices have consequences, and most if not all have a negative consequence on someone or something.

These outcomes merge together and express themselves in our society. Right from in our homes, to our neighborhood and community out to the country and the world. So acting with integrity will not solve the worlds problems. Everyone's priorities are different, we all make choices with consequences and we all have to live with those consequences. Its life, and yeah most of us are people of integrity.

Doubt me? Ask yourself this question. If we are all self-serving individuals as Dr. Morler contests, then would Canadian (or US) society actually function to the degree it does?

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