I am indebted to Elizabeth Russell who inspired this conversation.
As a matter of distinction, my integrity is not merely that I can be
counted on to keep my promise. Yes I can be, but if in fact I keep
every promise I make, in all likelihood I am playing too small. No, my
integrity is that I
honor my word as myself.
And in this sense my word is not necessarily my promise. In this sense,
my word is quite literally what I say ie my spoken word, the word which
has creative power, the word as in "In the Beginning was The Word", as
Being in integrity, who I really am is what I say ie my spoken word. I
am not my body. I have a body but I am not my body. If you cut my body
open you won't find me. If you cut my body open you'll only find
But you will find me in what I say. I speak, therefore I am (as
René Descartes may have said).
Regarding health it is said that I am what I eat. Regarding wealth it
is said that I am what I wear (bling bling!). I would like to propose,
instead - for today and for the future - that I am what I speak.
Honor the word
I speak as who I really am is integrity.
As far as I can tell, integrity as a platform is an indispensable
essential requirement for living transformation, for inventing
possibility, for making a difference. Indeed, integrity is an essential
requirement for any worthwhile undertaking in any worthwhile
enterprise. Arguably, without integrity nothing really works. And yet
integrity as a position or as a belief is next to worthless and could
in fact be counterproductive, even damaging. You generate integrity as
a stand not as a soap box oration. You generate integrity just for the
sake of generating integrity. Generating integrity for any other reason
or with an ulterior motive only seems to ruin it. So-called integrity
honoring your word
as who you really are is truly deadly to being in integrity.
This is, really, only the start of a great adventure. Consider this: if
I say that who I really am is my word and that I
honor my word
as who I really am, then how do I account for those times in my life
when I say that I am not free or when I say that I am being constrained
or when I imply that I am a victim of some circumstance or other? I
look, and I notice (sometimes to my own chagrin) that oftentimes my
conversations are shot through with descriptions of me being a victim
of someone or other or of some circumstance or other.
I have space for that. I am, after all, a human being and so things
like that are going to occur from time to time. But I am not willing
for them to remain unexamined for too long. My commitment is that once
I become aware that I am waxing lyrical about being the victim of
circumstance ie that I have lost a degree of freedom, I will
immediately look and see where I am being that in my spoken word. My
language, I assert, is where what shows up shows up. I have integrity.
I own that I language what shows up. Not to be right: no, simply as an
expression of bravery and power as a place to stand to try on new ways
of looking at things.
I shared with a friend of mine how I was done to. I relayed how a woman
I know did something to me.
Yet after examining the incident I got that she didn't do anything at
all to me. I got that it only occurred to me that
she did something to me. Yes, she did do something: the truth is she
did whatever she did, whatever that was. It only occurred to me that
she did something to me because in my speaking about what
she did, I added the phrase "to me". That's why it showed up for me
Me being the victim did not show up in what she did. It showed up in my
language. Me being the victim did not show up in the world of what
happened. It showed up
It's that simple.
If this is freedom and you say it's not, who is going to shift that for
you? If this is not freedom, where else is freedom going to be?
Life and the universe do not promise and are under no obligation to be
benign or to be hospitable to us so don't count on that and don't
expect that. Rather than being justifiable victims, our freedom is that
we can choose to have our lives be about making a difference in the
world in the face of no promise that we will get anything in return.