Integrity Matters
April 6, 2005

Integrity is alive and well

Question: (E-178)

Dear Jim:

With all of the cheating in corporations, the sports world and in marriages, is integrity becoming an "old school" relic? Who still honors commitments?


A construction company has this as its motto: "If you're not happy, we're not done." Their words imply they mean what they say about quality work and customer service. Since they have been in business for 60 years, there is no way they could survive unless these nice-sounding words translated into real-time behaviors. Integrity is important and many businesses honor commitments.

Despite the statistics about broken marriages, tens of millions of couples make their relationships work, year after year. Mutual respect is the foundation of their communication. They share responsibilities and "weather" the inevitable tough times that are a part of human relationships. Perfect marriages don't happen to perfect people, but caring individuals place needs of a partner above ego and pride in ways that allow forgiveness to overcome heartache and a sense of humor to dissolve anger and frustration. Marriage partners honor commitments.

Billions of individuals from around the world are mourning the loss of Pope John Paul II, the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, whose life, sacrifices and death have touched many lives. Respect for this 2,000-year-old tradition has captured headlines. Something about the integrity of a person, even when his ideas were in stark contrast to more "popular" stances, challenges the strongest of personalities to pause, pray and even shed a tear. Pope John Paul II, 1920-2005, embodied integrity and changed the world he inherited, by honoring his commitments.

Recently, a near-fatal crash was avoided, about 20 feet in front of me, at the four-way stop at Munras Avenue and Soledad Street in Monterey at 7:05 a.m. A preoccupied driver accelerated through the intersection, heading north, after the light had turned red. Parked in the left turn lane, I saw the automobile fly by. From the right, driving west on Soledad, another driver was nearing the middle of the intersection, only to swerve left just as the intruder made a similar movement. The cars may have missed by more than inches, but if so, then only by a little. No horns honked. No screams or threats were heard. No road rage. Everyone proceeded. Both drivers showed restraint, respect and forgiveness - and excellent reflexes.

My response was a silent prayer of thanksgiving while wiping perspiration from my forehead. Thankfully, no one was hurt, even though a life-and-death mistake was made. Two adults behaved maturely, and the remainder of my day was better. Obviously, integrity still matters in business, sports, marriage, religion, and, in day-to-day encounters, including "forgiving" a thoughtless driver. Integrity involves understanding and tolerance in business, at home and on the road.

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