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Integrity – A Way of Life (28th Oct , 2019)

Respected Vice-Principal Mrs Alemla Imsong, esteemed co-workers and my dear students,

As we begin to observe Vigilance Awareness Week 2019, it is indeed a privilege for me to share a few words on this year’s theme, Integrity- A Way of Life.

When I was younger, it was popular for schools and Sunday schools to hand out “Best Character” certificates at the end of the academic year to students chosen on the basis of their character, and not their academic performance.  I do not know if schools still follow this practice but personally I feel that it is a tradition worth keeping.

The reason why the Central Vigilance Commission organizes Vigilance Awareness Week is to bring out systematic improvement in governance by ensuring integrity in public administration. In addition, the Commission with its outreach activities also endeavors to create awareness among the common people, especially the youth towards a policy of achieving transparency, accountability and corruption free governance. The Commission describes corruption as dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, either to obtain benefits for one’s own self or some other person. It is also seen as a global phenomenon, affecting all strata of society in some way or the other, and it undermines development in all areas of life. 

Therefore, the theme “Integrity – A Way of Life” was chosen to counteract this systemic evil called corruption by inspiring younger generations to live a righteous and honest life,. We often use the word integrity interchangeably with character.

When we think of Integrity, we immediately think of morals or ethics, not performance. Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, in his book titled “Integrity- The Courage to Meet The Demands of Reality”   gives a broader definition to the word Integrity. Most people do have integrity as we define it in society today – they are honest, trustworthy, good upstanding citizens. Dr. Cloud believes that having integrity is not just about being a good person but that it is about becoming a complete person. And we can do this through the six qualities of integrity which allow us to avoid the three problem areas of integrity. Therefore, integrity is having enough character growth to ensure that these three problem areas arise less and less allowing us the ability to meet the demands of reality.

The six qualities of integrity as he defines it, are as follows:

1.      Firstly it is the quality of creating and maintaining trust. This is how most of us define integrity and it is the most basic quality.

2.      Secondly, it is the ability to see and face reality. We have to face our problems head-on. We cannot run from them, we cannot pretend they don’t exist.

3.      Thirdly, it is to work in a way that brings results. Some people may work many hours but are not as productive as the person who works less hours.

4.      The fourth quality,  is the ability to embrace negative reality. Successful people love negative reality. They seek it out because they want to learn from it. They want to meet that negative reality head on and embrace it. And you respond, not in a negative way but in a positive way. You’ve learnt from it. You know how to deal with it and now, from turning it from a negative to a positive, you can move on and you can become more successful.

5.      The fifth quality is to cause growth and increase. It’s easy to stay where we are. It’s easy to maintain the person that we are. But we all strive and want to grow, like the small child who is continually learning new things. We can have a much more fulfilled life if we continue with self- development and self- growth rather than sitting idly on the sidelines.

6.      The sixth and final quality is achieving transcendence and meaning in life. This is where it all comes together. Once you have achieved that transcendence, you know that your actions and everything you do is just a small part of a much bigger picture. You become happier to help others. You become happier to continue to grow and develop not only for yourself but for the good of those around you.

The three areas where problems occur in integrity are

1.      Hitting a performance ceiling that is much lower than one’s aptitude;

2.      Hitting an obstacle that derails you

3.      Or achieving great success only to self-destruct.

Why are these three areas problems and what causes them to become problems more and more? Well, it’s because not everybody has all six qualities and not everybody is maintaining that complete person and not everybody has that character of true integrity by the book’s definition. That is why we have to strive to maintain and continue to grow and self-develop all six qualities of integrity so that when these issues arise, we can really avoid them or at least minimize the problems and the effects of those problems as they arise in our lives.

So today, why don’t we try to apply these principles laid down by Dr. Cloud so that we not only try to change the world but change ourselves as well? Corruption is not only the misuse of authority but also the lack of desire to do anything about it. In a few moments from now, we will all be taking a pledge. To add to that I would like to quote the words of Apostle Paul from the book of Acts 24: 16- “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.” Thank you.

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