The dictionary that came with my Mac software defines integrity as, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” It also defines it as, “the state of being whole and undivided,” as well as a, “lack of corruption in electronic data.” When I drew this card, I wasn’t quite sure what direction to head, so I opened the dictionary first.
And that was enough. The brainstorm list for integrity is:
- Doing what you say you’ll do
- Treating everyone with an equal standard
- Editing with the same rules for everyone across the board at any given publication
- Admitting mistakes
- Saying you’re sorry
- Admitting when you don’t know something
- Practicing your religion, whatever it is, when you’re not in church
- Understanding that others have paths that deserve just as much respect as yours
- Forgiving someone when they have the courage to apologize
- Stepping back to see yourself as others see you when you begin to wonder if you’re right about anything
- Knowing when your power is too much for someone else
- Speaking up
Wow. That’s a list of stuff that’s a bit heavy for a Tuesday morning when all I really want to do is drink my coffee here. But artists are called to think about these sorts of things all the time. Why else would our art, our literature matter if it was all fluff?
There was something that happened this week that was a good example of integrity on a small scale. At one of the publications where I serve as an editor, someone submitted a file that contained a piece that wasn’t theirs. It didn’t look like it was done on purpose; the file looked like a screen shot that had been saved as an example. Naturally, we told the author that the file did not contain their original work. The author apparently didn’t double-check their file before blasting us with an email that demanded an apology. We took a breath, emailed that author back with the file we received from them attached.
What happened next showed the integrity of that author. We received another email with a huge apology, an admittance that a mistake was made, a request to forgive.
And we did forgive. Haven’t we all made mistakes? Jumped to the wrong conclusion? Oh, yeah. Did it take courage for that author to contact us again? Yes, I think so.
Wouldn’t we all love to see this on a bigger scale? Say, with our politicians? Our corporate CEOs? I would absolutely vote for someone who looked the camera squarely in the lens and said, hey, I was wrong about X, Y, and Z, and it’s nobody’s fault but mine.
Wait. I think there’s a song about that.