Considering Values and Integrity in Our Culture

Integrity Word CloudAs I deepen my practice of radical mysticism, I am spending a lot of time thinking about values. I am intrigued at how the Universe is bringing serendipities into my life that are also talking about values. Especially integrity.

Integrity – the alignment of values, words and actions. Being in complete integrity is making every choice in your life based on your core values.

What does integrity look like? It’s about the choices you make in every aspect of your life. It’s about where you put your time, your energy, and your resources. It’s about your actions reflecting your words and vice versa. When your words and your actions don’t match, you are out of integrity.

Do you value the environment? Then you make choices, big and small, that put the environment over convenience. Do you value family? Then you make your family your priority for quality time and energy rather than work, addictions, or distractions. Do you value community? Then you build community through your words and your actions in everyday life rather than isolate yourself out of fear or tear people down. Do you value your creativity? Then you commit time and and energy to your art rather than give into resistance and distraction. Do you value human life? Then you give your money and resources to organizations and business that treat humans well – whether employees, local communities, or consumers – and you refuse to give to those who don’t. Do you value women? Then you support organizations and businesses that honor women and what they have to offer and refuse to engage with the ones that don’t.

Living in full integrity has got to be one of the hardest things to do in life! We are wired for what’s easy and convenient. It’s easier to take the plastic bag at the grocery store than to remember to bring a reusable bag. We are also wired to go where everyone else is going. Choosing integrity is rarely a popular choice in our culture today. We are surrounded by lack of integrity and the violation of all kinds of ethics on a daily basis. Our leaders, politicians and corporations are violating ethics. Our most popular tv shows are all about the biggest ethical violations possible – murder and sexual assault.

Which is why it makes me really happy to see a real conversation about integrity on a mainstream television show, Madam Secretary. It’s a new show on CBS with Tea Leoni as a non-politician who is chosen to be Secretary of State. I am very picky about what I watch on television. I appreciate when it is used as an artform that can address important issues in our culture, put much needed stories into the conversation, and inspire people to think critically. We need stories of healthy and strong women leaders in our cultural narrative. And we need stories where people have ethical crisis, especially in relationship to politics, where ethics hardly exist.

On the most recent episode, the Secretary of State asked her husband, a religions professor, to violate his integrity and ethics for the good of saving another person’s life in a political situation. He refused. He was angry with her for even asking, when in an earlier scene she said that a strong moral compass was a huge turn on (indeed it is!). He told her to find another way, and she did, one that did not violate ethics. That is a very unusual story line for mainstream media of any kind!

Another place I’m seeing a conversation about values and integrity is at Ello, the new social network. Their founders and funders seem to be interested in holding to certain values – like being free of advertising and feed manipulation. Which is why I’m devoting most of my online time there. Like not making the users a product, but rather selling a product to the users. If I am to be in integrity with my own values, I need to make a conscious decision about where I spend my time and energy online. My time and energy is valuable. I can either click buttons that make Facebook advertising money, or I can participate in community on Ello. I can use my value as a social networking consumer to make money for big corporations, or build up independent artists and their body of work, whether it’s creative, tech, or something else. I want to believe that there are businesses of all kinds that have integrity and reflect their core values in how they interact with the world.

We need more stories about integrity in our culture, so that more of us will believe it’s possible. We need to create a new cultural narrative around integrity and how living from our values creates vitality and meaning in our lives. Which is why it’s become so important to me to consider values in everything. I am experiencing my most vibrant, healthy and meaningful life because of my values. Practicing integrity and becoming conscious of where it’s been absent has made me a happier person.

Am I in 100% integrity every single moment of my life? No. I have places where I’m still working on it. Mostly as a consumer and in relationship to myself and my body. It’s easier to me to maintain my integrity when it impacts others than it is when it only impacts me. I imagine that’s true for many of us.

To consider: In what ways do you practice having integrity? In what ways are you out of your integrity? Where in your life are your values and words not matching your actions?

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