Monday, June 6, 2011

Integrity

If there’s anything that should be valued most in a person, it is their integrity. When a person constantly lives up to what they say and believe even at a personal cost, it is incredibly admirable. Examples of such an honorable value are showcased by people everyday – people who do what they say they’ll do and those who act how they would if no one was looking. You can be someone with integrity if you practice discerning what is right, saying that you will do the right thing and doing it whether or not someone is noticing.

The example I always think of when assessing integrity is the fictional character Howard Roark in philosopher Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead. Roark is an incredibly gifted architect who is way ahead of his time and had been shunned at his very traditional school. But since buildings are his passion, he continued his work as a very unpopular architect with little work. He enjoyed and appreciated the little work he did have because he was able to produce his own visions that he revered. His fellow schoolmate, Peter Keating, wasn’t as gifted as Roark, but did a very good job at flirting his way to the top of a prestigious architectural company. But as Roark continued with his own morals and values, he slowly but surely began to develop a stream of clients that truly valued his work. Eventually, a well-established man named Gail Wynand, editor-in-chief of a prominent newspaper, took notice of Roark’s buildings and asked him to build his new home. The two became close friends and Wynand asks Roark too build a very important building. When Roark lets his friend Keating take charge of following through with Roark’s vision for the building, Keating changes it when Roark goes on vacation. Nearly done when Roark returns, the building is not what Roark envisioned and so he dynamites it. While in court for the explosion, he roused the courtroom with a speech about the value of the ego and the need to remain true to oneself.

Integrity is important to maintain because it binds all your other virtues together. Without integrity, other virtues fail to exist because a person first needs to be genuine and true to oneself before being honest, loving, courageous, prudent, etc. to others.

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