We live in an age where the words honest and integrety are not in the vocabulary of many people. I work (as a suplement to my pastoral roles) in a major retail outlet and we have a policy to allow people to return items under a certain price without a receipt, which is very good for many people but this policy leaves the company open to abuse. How has this been abused? Small thefts, people will steal low priced items like dvd’s, cosmetics, and other items go outside and then go to another location return those items for actual cash. I sit and wonder what happened to integrety?
One of my favorite aspects of the Friends Church has been its devotion to honesty or integrety throughout our history. It is found in our most ancient times in the jailings of our founders for not swearing oaths because they felt that every word spoken should be truth and an oath implies that dishonesty is the common language of our culture. It is also seen in the plain speach stances among many others. This devotion to intergrety has probably been the most influential aspect of Friends to the culture, leading many companies to use the name of Quaker to bring better business. Unfortunatly I feel we have neglected this in our contemporary age. What have we replaced it with? I read many of the items presented by various committees of Friends they focus on our testimony of peace or equality. Both are very important but I feel we have neglected integrety to achieve gains in these areas.
We have commitees urging the support of political stances and individuals that support defunding military and equality, yet many of these groups have track records lacking integrety. I say this of both major political parties. Integrety is sorely needed in our culture.
Integrety is important because affects all aspects of our lives. Fiscal integrety keeps our businesses and organizations working. It also keeps our families in our homes and fed. I am saddened when I see so many Friends supporting charity yet saying nothing on financial integrety to those they assist either through their Meeting or in government programs. I do not say helping is wrong in fact I believe we need to help more but as we help we need to encourage integrety in their finances.
Plain speech is also a very important aspect of integrety. Plain speech isn’t speaking in olde English, but truth. We live in a culture of lies. Just recently the president of the United States allowed a long period of questioning and debate over his citizenship status, I found that the whole process was rediculous. He could have easily quieted the issue months ago by speaking plainly. The idea that we can’t speak plainly runs deep in our culture, but when we honest speach is used we do gain respect in the community.
Our actions need to speak as well. I love the idea promoted by St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always and when necissary use word.” If we promote peace, equality, and integrety we lose all respect when our words aren’t reflected in our actions.
I challenge all Friends to again embrace integrety. Without true integrety our testimonies of peace and equality will fall on deaf ears.