Erwin starts off the chapter talking about authenticity. Authenticity can be a virtue in our culture, but authenticity without integrity is lethal. Authenticity in and of itself can be a facade for self indulgence. Just because we're honest about what we do, doesn't mean that what we do is good. There is a line of thought that says, the most important thing is that I be my authentic self, that I express what I feel and that I do what I want to. This is a recipe for disaster as we can think and feel horrible things. As an extreme example, if someone is pissed with me and feels like expressing their anger violently, I want them to be hypocritical and do something other than how they feel. On a more, day-to-day level, we've probably all experienced someone saying something about a person or situation in the vein of "being honest" when it just really shouldn't have been said.
When we lack integrity, we alter decisions based on others. We conform to what someone we admires want us to be be. We live life in fear, fear or being caught or fear of being exposed for who we are. Integrity gives roots. It's not about being flawless, but being falseless. It is revealed in opposition and resistance, as it reveals what's really there (71). It cannot be unmoved when it has the power to help (76). Integrity gives courage to live lives of conviction.
An example of integrity in my family is my grandpa. What you saw, is what you got. But just as important was the fact that he was grounded. He lived by principles; principles about dealing honestly with others, principles about treating others the way you'd want to be treated, and principles about being generous with one's resources. He was not perfect, but he was truthful.
He also made some good observations about power:
Corruption is not an issue of power, but of passion. Power enables us to unleash our passions. What is hidden when we are powerless is exposed when we are empowered. (78)I can remember being in middle school reading the book, Animal Farm, and coming across the line, "Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely". I was told that was true, but I don't believe it anymore. Power is more of an enabling agent than a corrosive agent. I'm not an advocate of hierarchies that enable people to have too much power where too much depends on the person. Different people have different capacities, and one's capacity is a function of their character.
Power with integrity is not corrosive, but creative. Power is just a a tool, allowing us the freedom to act as we truly are. The important distinction from our culture, is that we are to pursue integrity, not power.
Connecting with Humility
Integrity is about truth as truth informs integrity. As there are a lot of options out there, truth is something we have to learn, and humility puts us in the posture or position to learn this truth.
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