Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Thoughts on Integrity...


Ok - since I got this thing started I'm definitely going to use it...I'm sitting around with asthmatic bronchitis at school, completely unable to talk , wanting to be at home but can't since we have no subs to cover for me. I have my kids in the lab all day, can't teach, have caught up on everything imaginable and am REALLY bored...so I'm going to keep the thoughts runnin'...I suppose this is all really my fault since I had a bit of a cold from skiing all day Friday and then going out to the bar knowing I'm allergic to cigarette smoke and still stuck around after it started bothering me, but I've never gotten this bad before where it just keeps getting worse. And for me, not being able to talk is a real bummer...as most of you all know! To say the least this is a very trying experience!

So, integrity...I've been coaching since I started college, always been involved with the schools, have been in education now since 2003, so I figure I have a bit of experience with a wide range of students. When did responsibility and integrity get dropped from the English language? The kids can give me a sketchy sort of definition of responsibility at least, but haven't a clue what the word integrity means....so I decided to start being a bit more aware of the people around me and try and figure out where this all stems from. And lo and behold, most folk I know my age and older don't have a clue about what responsibility for their actions even means. This means my lovely young adults I teach everyday haven't a clue because most have never had some sort of example to live by. Those of you who don't want to admit you can't give a precise definition of what integrity is, don't feel bad. It's should be more of a sense of what is right from wrong in ALL aspects of life rather than a bunch of words on a piece of paper. But if you want the textbook definition:

Integrity is:
1) A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or
artistic values: INCORRUPTIBILITY
2) An unimpaired condition: SOUNDNESS
3) The quality or state of being complete or undivided:
COMPLETENESS

Synonym see HONESTY

Pretty cut and dry huh? So why is this such a difficult concept for so many people these days? I find myself hitting the age where everyone I meet, especially the guys I date, come with a lot of baggage. The last three guys I've met and enjoyed talking with are divorced with kids. At first this was strange to me and my first thoughts were, "what did you do to get yourself in this situation?" And then I started hearing the stories. Yes, there are two sides to every situation, and usually more than just one person has done, said, whatever something they regret...but the fact of the matter was that one major player usually had some serious breach of integrity. To me this is not a concept I understand. I was raised to be responsible for my actions, to stand up for what I believe in, and most of all, be honest. Of course I've lied as a teenager to get out of trouble for doing stuff I probably shouldn't have done, who hasn't? But at least I wasn't getting myself into trouble, and adhered to the morals I had been raised with. Nobody just wanted to believe I wouldn't do something really stupid as a mouthy teenager. And I can't blame them. Those are phases everyone goes through and it doesn't make you a bad person. It's the things you do in life that effects others, negatively, that I have a problem with. For example, I caught a senior skipping class last week. Since it was the end of the hour and he was already taking an unexcused absence I simply only asked him where he'd been. He had no problem telling me what was up, but then proceeded to lie to another teacher right in front of me less than 20 minutes later. I piped in and told him not to lie, and the look he gave me was pure hate. He hasn't talked to me since and hasn't shown up for class either. What's up with that?! The only person he's truly hurting is himself I suppose, but why lie to someone and expect others to do it for them? Of course I wasn't putting myself into that situation and really, what kind of person expects another to lie for them?

My grandfather always used to say, "don't blame the sheep, blame the shepard." And it's so true, the root of this is in the household. As a teacher sometimes I feel like I am expected to be raising these kids, teaching them not just how to write a kick-ass term paper, but the foundations of right from wrong. All I can do is serve as an example. It is not my place to tell them these things...I don't have kids yet!

It seems to me there is a lot of bad feeling and hurt floating about simply because people can't be honest with either themselves or others. Integrity may be an easy concept to understand, but not necessarily an easy concept to practice. Most people want to either hide what they're thinking, or simply hide, in order not to deal with their actions. Quite personally I'd rather deal with the truth than wonder why someone's acting weird. Maybe I'm too outspoken but that's just me. My definition of a person who practices integrity? They aren't a chickenshit. Put bluntly.

1 comment:

Diana Stark said...

Ah, the joys of life!!