Reflections on Integrity

(From July 2011; an essay for my Drill SGT in Basic Training) – Military Standards define integrity as doing what is right, legally and morally. The soldier’s code expounds upon that to instill in us to do nothing for personal gain, pleasure, or personal safety if it disgraces our uniform, our unit, or our country.
I personally believe integrity to be rooted in the respect for life. If compassion for life is what I base my philosophy on, then it is important to constantly look back to that foundation to ensure that my continued work remains aligned with that base principle. This ensures a consistency between my words and my deeds.

I agree with moral principles and human ethics, as it is a necessity to social order. However, I place a greater value on compassion than on social order. My compassion for all of nature drives me to do what is in favor of the divine beauty in life, and to the detriment of actions which negatively affect that beauty. To that respect I have made myself a guardian of that beauty, of truth, and of any system which works to that end.

Throughout my life I have dealt with subversion on many levels and, in recognizing corruption behind seemingly true intentions, began to withdraw myself from normative systems- first for the purpose of defining those systems, then for the purpose of judging them, and eventually for the purpose of supporting those found to be inerrant by actively working to disestablish the proponents of those sown in corruption.

Having done all I can do to observe nature from the farthest distance I could reach, I’ve run short term operations to infiltrate, analyze, and withdraw from a large variety of systems which I hoped to prove true in an attempt to find a foundation which would become a staging point for future operations.

Having now come to a point where my forays have defined enough for me, given the pressure of time- my only true adversary- I have laid out a number of systems to more thoroughly explore. The path to the exploration of those systems began in many ways, but if I had to choose a great pivotal point I would choose the moment I moved to the United States of America.

There is a vital difference between one’s intentions, the actions they make in an effort to explore those intentions, and the actual effects of those actions. There are times when a person has good intentions and performs actions which are inherently good, yet the effect of those actions weigh negatively overall. There are times when a person has good intentions yet performs actions which are inherently immoral and, regardless of the effect(s) of those actions, what transpired was immoral. I intend to be neither of these. I have moral intentions, a desire to act morally, and put forth every effort to ensure that the effect of those actions bring a moral outcome. Of course that is the ideal I set. Mistakes through human error, lack of experience, and slips in adherence to protocol are obvious stones to step.

There were times when I have had good intentions, where the effects of my actions were positive for me yet negative for others, and the actions I performed were inherently immoral. For example, in my teenage years I stole food in order to survive. I always felt as though my actions were justified- given the circumstances- but in retrospect I was wrong, for there were many times when I could have bettered my position in life yet did not. Instead I pursued hedonistic tendencies in an effort to mask the pain of the past behind short term pleasures. I became an escapist- reaching for the nearest good, as if making the most of suffering. It took me many years of solitude to turn around my perspective from fear and regret- to rise above my position in life and seek higher truths.

It is impossible to remark on the integrity of society as a whole, but the most noticeable parts certainly have left a lasting impression on me in my youth. I noticed tiers within society. I saw indoctrinated and good natured people subverted through clandestine measures for the purpose of utility. These people were complacent with their position in life, and appeased by a conditioned response to fed stimulus. I saw society as being dominated by people who refused to limit their course of action to that which is inherently good.

As I grew I realized that norms were established for the proletariat. I learned that reality forces certain inevitabilities which are inescapable. To begin to dream of a utopia we must first define where we are, then define how to get there. If the end must justify the means, then perhaps it is purposeful to allow utilitarian prospects to flourish.

If we war against these principalities in an effort to seek the quickest ideal, then we are being shortsighted and unrealistic. This is where intentions become refined, actions become debatable, and effects of actions become impossible to predict. Morality becomes fuzzy and grey, and it causes me great sadness to understand this. Suddenly responsibility is no longer desirable, for it is not the beaming chivalry it seemed to be. Morality is likely an endless pursuit, and quite possibly complete vanity.

My natural and initial reaction to the strife thrust upon my fellow man would take form similar to our forefathers’ reaction to their treatment by King George in their times. However, I am bound by my principles to not allow myself to act on fear and possible misunderstanding- to not react to my environment, but rather to act in my environment. I refuse to cast judgment, in the favor of perception even though it goes against my every feeling to do so. I will wait and see fully what the nature of things are, and then I will decide what actions I may or may not take. I believe that to be a decision of integrity- to do what is right, regardless of personal interest.

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