is a hard, clear, razor thin line. I'm either inintegrity
or I'm not. There's no gr3y area when it comes to being in
is black and white. Or rather, spoken with
is black or white.
Or is it?
Keeping the law is a matter of
And when it's said "Ignorance of the law is no excuse", it
raises the stakes, it ups the ante so that to be in
you have to keep all laws including the ones you're unaware of.
I've always paid taxes on time and accurately. Paying taxes is the law.
computer trainer for many of
the Fortune 1000 companies
I've had the opportunity to present seminars for and to train the
software technicians of the United States Department of the Treasury
aka the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS. I've been exposed to
some of the lesser known laws which govern tax returns. For example,
remember the last time you found, with delight, a ten dollar bill on
the sidewalk? You picked it up and spent it - a nice windfall. If you
didn't declare it as taxable income, you violated the law. Cash you
find, even a dime on the sidewalk, is taxable income. If you don't
declare it on your tax return you're out of
in addition to violating the law whether you're aware of this law or
You're driving along the open road. You've passed the signs telling you
the speed limit is sixty miles an hour. Yet you're sailing along close
to seventy clicks. You see the road ahead and (in your rear view
mirror) the road behind. There are no highway patrol cruisers in sight.
Are you out of
Are you breaking the law if you don't get caught? It's
asked "If a tree falls in the forest, and there's no one there to
hear it, does it make a sound?". Similarly, if you exceed the
speed limit and there's no highway patrol officer to cite you, are
you breaking the law ie are you out of
If you violate an edict you've committed to uphold from your
religious institution, you're out of integrity. The
statistics tell the galling story of how many Americans are out of
integrity with the promise made at marriage "to have and to hold from
this day forward for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in
sickness and in health, to love and to cherish 'till death do us part".
The number of people who've violated this edict, who've broken this
promise and are therefore out of
is simply staggering.
All these laws and promises were designed to be upheld ie not to be
trivialized. And all the
implicit in upholding these laws and in keeping these promises aren't
to be taken lightly. And yet the evidence is in that we do take
lightly, that while we may aver we stay in
if the truth be told our standards for what constitutes violations of
and what doesn't are somewhat squishy.
I'm not about to propose a solution to this state of
affairs (at least not yet). I don't have the answers. I
notice in some situations, I am (that is we are) bound by
certain rules of society which don't take into account, which aren't
who we really are.
As such, this makes it hard to abide by standards of society's
especially when being in
with society requires not being
who we really are
- for example, when a pacifist is drafted to fight with the armed
forces. There seems to be, on occasion, one set of rules which binds
who we really are,
a different set of rules,
sometimes seemingly at odds, which binds society's interests. When you
stand on the razor's edge of an
moment on the one side of which is society's interests and on the other
side of which is
who you really are,
which do you choose? Or rather,
do you choose? Remember, society's rules don't necessarily conflict
withwho you really are.
Rather, simply in the way society's rules have been constructed and
by whom, they may not always take into accountwho you really are.
If you choose
who you really are
over society's decree, have you violated your
is defined as upholding the decrees of society? I'm fascinated by the
integritysquishy? Or is it, indeed, a one size fits all?
The deeper I get into this inquiry, the clearer a distinction becomes.
associated with society's decrees may indeed be squishy. If I
knowingly drive at seventy miles an hour in a sixty mile an hour zone,
I've violated the law and am out of
If I knowingly drive at seventy miles an hour in a sixty mile an hour
zone with a pregnant woman in labor having contractions in the
passenger seat on the way to the nearest hospital, do we even include
the notions of breaking the law and violating
in this conversation? And as for the situations in which a societal
decree is violated when I'm unaware there's a decree in place which
I'm violating (remember, "Ignorance of the law is no
excuse"), have I broken the law until I'm held to account for
breaking the law? Am I out of
integrityas long as I'm unaware I'm out of
I assert society's
as defined by the collection of societal decrees, is the domain of
It's not a hard, clear, razor thin line. I may be in
integrityor not. Mostly I'm in
with society. Yet even if I'm out of
with society, I may not be aware of it. There's
only shades of gr3y here, never just black, never just
In contradistinction, I do know, I alwaysknow when I'm not ... being ... my ...
I always know when I'm out of
by not being
who I really am.
This is the
with a hard, clear, razor thin line. This is the
which I'm either in or I'm not. This is the
which has no gr3y area. This is the
which has only black or white. This
which isn't squishy.