Here’s part 1 of 9 of my virtues essay. Please let me know what you think. For whatever reason, I’m shitting my pants on this one. I’ve already written 5, but I think this is the best one.
Our Own Druidry describes integrity as “honour, being true to oneself and others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect and self-confidence.” Integrity and honour are very much linked, in that there is great honour in acting with integrity. The people I value most in my life are people who are both wise, and who act with great integrity; I feel that wisdom and integrity are each necessary at some level for the other. People who are living in this place almost seem to radiate honour. It is something I try very hard to cultivate in my own life.
I’m a fan of the book The Four Agreements, and I think Don Miguel Ruiz summarizes living with integrity nicely: “Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.”
I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place with “being impeccable with my word” at the moment. I come from a very Christian background, and I have done a lot of soul-searching and determined that the Druid path is one I’d like to fully embrace. It’s been difficult for me to decide whether I should be true to myself and live my life as a Druid openly and be fully honest with my family, or whether I should respect myself and keep my private life private. I feel like I should be honest with them, because I probably eventually will whether I like it or not. I feel like there is a distinct possibility that they may not respect my choices though, and I need to put my self-respect ahead of their privilege of knowing about my relationships with my Gods. It can feel very dishonest.
This thought also falls into “don’t make assumptions” territory. By assuming that they will react negatively to my conversion, I am assuming the worst about them. That’s not true fairness.
“Don’t take anything personally” in this situation would mean that any negative reaction I might receive would be a function of their lack of integrity. Harsh, but if they were acting from a place of integrity, they would recognize my need to act from the same place. There isn’t much honour in forcing one’s beliefs on others, nor is there much honour in thinking that your beliefs are the only correct ones.
“Always do your best” is a loaded statement. Most people think it means that the very best you’ve ever done should be the benchmark for all your future endeavours. While trying to do your very best to this degree is a noble pursuit, it is not coming from a place of integrity. True integrity would be to recognize what “best” means to you at this very moment, and then doing that. Obviously, say, if you have the flu, your best is not going to be the same as when you’re healthy. Honouring that fact is true integrity.
These four aspects of cultivating integrity are all worthwhile, and all not small endeavours. Much like Gandhi who devoted his whole life to Satya, only one fifth of one of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga, I don’t expect that I will get these all right any time soon. It is, however, an excellent starting point.