Integrity is one of those things that is hard to define, hard to grasp, but easy to see when someone has it or not.
My concept of integrity has to do with the bushido code, also known as the seven virtues of the samurai. Duty, Benevolence, Honesty, Loyalty, Courage, Respect, and Honor. These were things we had to reflect upon while folding our hakama or our sensei’s hakama. The hakama is the pleated skirt-like pants you see some martial artists wear or you see the samurai wear in movies. If you look closely, there are seven pleats, one for each virtue.
I know a lot of people with integrity whether they are purposeful about it or not. I never really thought about being purposeful about it even though I was. I just didn’t have a handle on the concept of integrity.
Now I make even more conscious decisions before I act. How will this reflect upon me and my character? Will this benefit others or just me? Does this affect someone else negatively? Will I have to choose between two friends or two sets of friends? Will I be honoring others when I do this? Would my grandparents be proud of my choice if they were here with me? Am I demonstrating respect with this action? Am I standing frozen in fear or am I moving forward and not letting obstacles get in my way? Is this the right thing to do?
One of my friends and fellow aikidoka, I’ll call him Exodus, always told me when we were working together that I needed to lower my expectations of others so that when they disappointed me, it didn’t seem so bad. It’s sound reasoning, but difficult to do. I have a hard time fathoming how people live life without integrity. I could put on my psychology hat and come up with explanations according to psychological reasoning. Even with those answers, I still wouldn’t get it.
Jesus said it best though, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.