Spiritual leaders answer on integrity

Editors note: Every Friday a question is printed at the end of this column inviting a response. If you are a religious leader on Kaua‘i please send in your thoughts or suggestions for future topics. Next week’s topic is on education. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week. Due to the many contributions this week, responses were lightly edited due to space constraints.

Wendy Winegar

North Shore Christian Science

One of the largest global showcases of integrity will take place in Beijing, China, beginning Aug. 8 with the opening of the Summer Olympic Games. Almost 4 billion people worldwide will watch athletes and judges from over 200 countries perform to their highest degree of precision, strength and stamina. The athletes will aspire to demonstrate their individual and team fulfillment of the Olympic motto “Faster, higher, stronger” within the framework of adhering to the moral and ethical principles demanded, and now legislated, into good sportsmanship.

For me, the recent news of runner Marion Jones’ Olympic medals taken away due to her use of performance enhancing drugs was heart wrenching. An Olympic athlete I know of says that the temptation to take sports drugs can be likened to Jesus being tempted by the devil early in his ministry. “Fall down and worship me,” said the devil. “And I’ll give you all the world has to offer.” (paraphrase of Matt 4:8,9) That’s what those performance enhancing drugs are saying. “Bow down to me,” says the drug, “and I’ll give you all the materiality you’d ever want — fame, fortune, idolatry.” As a great example for mankind, Jesus saw through the temptation and affirmed his allegiance to serving only God.

Christian Science understands man as more than a physiological creature. When Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, suffered a severe injury that the doctors claimed would take her life, she opened her Bible, caught a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven within and was healed. How could she be healed mentally when her condition was physical? She spent the next several years researching the Bible and the teachings of Jesus to find out why she was healed. During this time she wrote “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” which contains the full answer.

So many athletes stand on the podium and thank God for their victory. There’s something about sports that pushes us to find and appreciate that mental kingdom of heaven within that enhances the experience of both athlete and spectator.

Rev. Rita MeKila Herring

Universal Brotherhood Movement

Integrity is something that we each define for ourselves. Your sense of integrity can not be determined by someone else any more than you can say what someone else’s integrity might look like. It’s a set of moral values that we’ve decided are in alignment with our core beliefs about ourselves and others. When we act in accordance with those values, we’re said to be acting in integrity. When we act in contrast to those core values and beliefs we are no longer in our integrity.

Taking it up to an even more personal level, what is your highest aspiration for yourself? Keeping that in mind, whenever you act in support of that “ideal you,” you are in your integrity. Whenever you act in a way that does not support that “ideal you,” you are acting outside of integrity. One might even say that in order to reach that highest aspiration, it’s integral that you remain in your integrity.

Annaleah Atkinson

The Fellowship of the Inner Light

One definition of integrity is, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” Honesty means telling the absolute truth as one perceives it, recognizing that one can only perceive what he is able to understand. An honest person can be trusted and trust is one of the cornerstones for community. It sets people at ease.

A second definition of integrity is, “the condition of being unified, unimpaired or sound in construction.” We get our money back from a manufacturer if we purchase something that is faulty. What do we do when we’ve been burned by someone who is dishonest with us? It is first necessary to confront the person, and speak of how their dishonesty affected us. Otherwise they might not know or care.

If a person is repeatedly dishonest they are not ethically “sound in construction.” This includes telling a truthful story, but omitting enough of it to cause the listener to think something else. If you can forgive the person, look them in the eye and then kindly but firmly say, “Honesty is important to me. I trust that you will be truthful with me in the future, O.K.?” Get that agreement and handshake. Ask for restitution if necessary.

Researchers have proven that people will often respond the way they think we want them to respond. Maybe no one ever trusted them before, and that is why their integrity is tarnished. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That doesn’t mean we have to do business with them.

The Spiritual

Assembly of the Baha’is of Koloa

In 1912, Abdu’l-Baha, an early leader of the Baha’i faith, journeyed to America where he spent nearly eight months traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada speaking to people of all faiths and backgrounds. In one talk he referred to integrity, describing it as an indispensable component of religion. “The real bond of integrity is religious in character, for religion indicates the oneness of the world of humanity.” 

In another writing, Abdu’l-Baha further describes integrity as an indispensable character trait. “Truthfulness, uprightness and integrity are the attributes of the righteous and the hallmarks of the pure.”  

 Responding to an individual’s question about integrity in business dealings he writes that the necessary virtue of integrity begins at home with family and friends. “You have written on the question of how the friends should proceed in their business dealings with one another … In relations of this kind, the friends of God should act with the utmost trustworthiness and integrity. To be remiss in this area would be to turn one’s face away from the counsels of the Blessed Beauty and the holy precepts of God. If a man in his own home doth not treat his relations and friends with entire trustworthiness and integrity, his dealings with the outside world — no matter how much trustworthiness and honesty he may bring to them — will prove barren and unproductive.” 

And, addressing those in public service, he states “As for those who are engaged in government service, they should perform their duties with the utmost fidelity, trustworthiness, rectitude, uprightness, integrity and high-mindedness. Let them not tarnish their good repute by pursuing personal interests, nor, for the sake of transient worldly benefits, make themselves objects of public odium and outcasts of the Threshold of Grandeur.”   

Rebecca DeRoos

Science of Mind Practitioner

When it feels wrong, I know it. With integrity I have to get up the courage to face it and resolve the problem. Not easy, but oh so cleansing. Our minds have a direct connection with our “physicality.” If we don’t think well or honestly, our bodies suffer.

Proverbs 10:9: “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” If one does wrong or is dishonest or unfair, it always comes back to him. Sometimes in ways he’d least expect.

Interestingly the word “integrity” is derived from the word “integer” which means “whole or complete.” Wouldn’t we rather be whole or complete than fragmented and lost when handling a situation?

We have a choice in any situation. Spirit delights in giving us choice. If we choose wrong, we learn; if we choose honestly, we celebrate our integrity.

To give some examples: If you’ve found out later that a salesclerk has charged you for only one of your items and you’ve saved $5, to stay with your own personal integrity, why not share that $5 with a charity. Or if you don’t like a situation with a neighbor, why not speak frankly and kindly with him, rather than blaming and naming him behind his back. Integrity takes courage and work, but is well worth it.

Next week’s question:

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