Is there such a thing as personal integrity? By this, I mean a code of conduct/ethics that one needs to take in order to get through the day to day.

Say someone has a family that’s hungry, and you steal food for them. While stealing is wrong, is feeding your family right?

What a gang or organized crime member. While many of their actions may be wrong, illegal etc, if they are acting this way to protect their family, is it right?

If someone sees a crime being committed, but doesn’t intercede, call law enforcement, or act as a witness because of fear of retribution or reprisal, were they right to not interfere?


Here’s some posts talking about integrity:

28 thoughts on “Integrity: Again

  1. How do you really know what you would do personally? You can be the most moral and ethical person, find yourself in a situation and react in a way absolutely foreign to your previous ideals, especially when certain family is involved (say kids). Those of us who believe ourselves to be rational and possess integrity may be shocked at what we would do.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. I have seen my emotions take over first hand a few times. I haven’t recognized that person so I am much more willing to say *never say never* when it comes to reacting to things in certain heightened scenarios.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No high tower pontification coming from me. We’re all capable of going to the dark side. Honestly, I’m amazed that people today get along as well as they do. Our culture as a whole is adrift on a sea of relativism.

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  3. Yeah, personal integrity is just that, personal. It is the ability to do what you think is right, rather than what you are told. Now, to interfere to stop a crime, maybe there was a time. Now though, you can be charged with a crime for doing just that. Is it worth it? I don’t know. I guess that depends on the time and place and then, your immediate, spontaneous reaction.

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  4. I’ve spent enough time in jail to know that plenty of people find themselves doing things they never thought they would do until circumstances intervened. That’s why I would never say I would never do something.

    I like to think I would step in as a “hero” to protect people, but until I find myself in a situation where I witness a crime I have no idea what I would do.

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    1. I agree, I can always justify my actions, and I assume others feel the same about their decisions. Fear of retribution can cloud our judgement, but so can hunger, fear, and emotional pain. This is a tough one. I suppose I could stick my neck out and say we have to stay true to ourselves, despite the circumstances, the ridicule, or repercussions. Great discussion. Hugs, C

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      1. It’s easy to make a bold yes or no statement, but it’s not really realistic. Real people often have tough decisions to make


  5. I agree with what the others have said. Until you are in the situation you don’t know how you will react. Doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to have integrity and that we shouldn’t think about how we would handle different situations. We can try to be perepared, but there is no 100 percent guarantee that we are going to react how we thought we would.

    I am reminded of what my brother-in-law said that has stuck with me. It was pertaining to a situation that my family was in at the time and it was a major one. One of those curve balls that you don’t see coming. We had the ones who judged us for how we responded and ones that were on our side. My BIL said, “I cannot and will not judge you. I honestly cannot tell you how I would respond in your situation. I am not in your shoes and so it is impossible to know.”
    Nothing deep and philophical , just a simple point that was refreshing to hear.

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  6. Back in my earlier days of working in retail, I witnessed a customer stealing from the store. It was 2 people. They were stuffing clothes underneath their own clothes and laughing while they did it. So, I asked them to give back the items that I saw them hide, and they said they had nothing and took off. So, I chased them down and into the parking lot where they got in a car and drove off almost hitting people in the lot. I was able to pick them out of a line up, got a court date and they didn’t show up. Found out they had a rap sheet longer than a CVS receipt. Gun and Drug charges too. Cops said I was lucky they didn’t turn on me. We all judge, and we never know what we will do until we are in a situation.

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  7. As I began your post, I was on my high horse with “of course, you should have personal integrity.” Then your scenarios changed everything. I agree with the common threads of holding back on being judgemental and not knowing what you would do until you were in that same situation. Les Miserables is a great fictional example of those choices–feeding a child (Jean Valjean) and giving someone a second chance (the priest).

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  8. I’ve never really been impressed by someone’s personal declaration of integrity, for a couple of reasons. First, what someone considers to be integrity may not be the same for others. And this could be for a variety of reasons…culture, personal experience, etc. Second, it’s easy for a person to declare what they would or wouldn’t do if they’ve never been in a particular situation. I catch myself doing this more than I’d like to admit..thinking I’d handle a situation differently. But that’s easy to do when you’re not actually experiencing it.

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  9. Integrity isn’t the same for everyone. What one person believes is the right thing to do isn’t what everyone else may believe is the right thing to do. And I also believe that we don’t really know how we’ll react to a situation until we’re in it!


  10. You know, I once tried to do the right thing and step between a bully and his victim. While I successfully stopped that conflict, it opened a whole new can of worms when the bully and his gang took out revenge on me for interfering. I found myself face down on the cold, hard concrete, taking blows to the head that might have ended doing a lot of damage if not for another Good Samaritan passing by. Really, it’s hard to know what to make of all that. While I kind of regretted getting involved, my integrity was rewarded when somebody else turned the tables and stopped to help me. What comes around goes around, I guess?


  11. Ethics are flexible given the situation, in my view. But there’s a line which only personal integrity can draw. I don’t personally care much about people stealing from a large store in order to eat, but stealing from a homeless person, nup

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