Bedrock of a Free Society
Living with integrity is a bedrock skill for living well that requires the use of reason and is always an ongoing work in progress. It is also the primary quality of character necessary for a free society.
The best definition of reason that I've ever come across is from Nathaniel Branden: "Reason is the non-contradictory integration of experience."
As conscious, thinking beings, our task, regardless of our status, regardless of our IQ and regardless of our circumstances, is to make the best sense out of our world (objective reality), our internal subjective experience, our relationships and our options. Reason is the tool of thought that we use to accomplish this.
Imagine a day without reason: You wake up, get out of bed and do the rote tasks of personal hygiene. Then you go out to the kitchen. You're hungry. What to eat? One thing is as good as another! Could have oatmeal, could have toast, or could have leftovers from last night's dinner. How do you choose?
You can't. Choosing requires differentiation and discrimination. You have to judge one thing as more attractive to eat than another. Without the capacity to reason, you're sunk. Of course, you'd end up eating something somehow before you starve, but it could take awhile.
You've barely arisen and you're already in need of reason. As you continue with your day, there are much more complex things that you need to understand in order to function in the world.
We use our capacity for reason to make sense of what we can; and we can either live congruently or incongruently with what we understand. When we are honest about what we know and we then seek to integrate that knowledge through our words and deeds, what we are doing is living with integrity.
Living with integrity is no small feat. To be conscious of your experience and honest about what you perceive, think, feel and believe can take tremendous courage in some situations. And while Winston Churchill famously said that "courage is the first of human qualities," I believe that living with integrity is the fullest expression of courage.
Living with integrity provides the structure of personal character that makes courage matter.
To the extent that you seek to be conscious and seek to know the truth, to the extent that you are honest with yourself about what you know, think and believe, and to the extent that what you know, think and believe is consistent with what you say and what you say is consistent with what you do, to that extent you are living with integrity.
When you strive to live with integrity you grow a positive reputation with yourself and that reputation can earn you a sense of deep comfort within your own skin. The more you are honest with yourself and live what you know when you're together with others, the easier it becomes to know what to do in any given circumstance.
But this is not something that affects just you. When you think of people who have been great forces for good in the world, who do you think of? Make a quick mental list of two or three people right now.
I don't know who you thought of but I'll bet you they were not people who kept their views shrouded in endless qualifiers, or people who lied and cheated to accomplish something great, or people who talked a great game but didn't follow through.
Sophistry and appeasement do not generally enhance the good – but they can allow evil to fester and grow.
People who make a positive impact on the world are people who act with courage and integrity; and their impact – your impact – can be substantial.
A research study was done years ago by Professor Stanley Milgram on Obedience to Authority, which was a fantastic study on the dramatic impact that a person acting with integrity can have on others.
This was the study where subjects who thought they were helping an experimenter were told to ask a (fake) subject questions. If the fake subject answered incorrectly, the real subject was to shock that subject with higher and higher voltages of electricity – up to and beyond a clear danger zone, and in the face of screams, pleading and then silence from the fake subject.
When Milgram asked audiences to whom he presented how many of them thought they would go all the way up the voltage scale, very few hands would raise. I'm sure you think that you would never go along with such a directive yourself. I know I don't think I would.
But fully 65% of subjects did just that, illustrating the extent to which we can be drawn to obey an authority figure against our own beliefs. I know people who have participated in this experiment, and you would be surprised at the strength of character and will these people possess – and yet under the right circumstances they did what they wish they hadn't. I've had my own less dramatic run-ins with getting drawn into regretful situations. It's sobering to know that we can all be susceptible to such pressures.
But here's the powerful lesson from a little known part of Milgram's experiments: When subjects watched another subject refuse to continue before they themselves participated, the number of subjects who then went on to administer shocks all the way up the voltage scale themselves plummeted to a mere 10%!
One person acting with integrity can have a huge impact on other people; in this case, lowering the compliance with inflicting cruel physical pain from two-thirds of subjects to one-tenth of subjects.
Imagine if Hitler or Stalin or the current purveyors of inhuman coercion could only count on 10% of people to actively or passively go along with their evil plans. Imagine if 90% of the population of America refused to comply with the fascist directives and regulations coming from our government.
That would be a much different world than the two-thirds compliance we would otherwise expect, based on Milgram's experiment.
That is the power of living with integrity. That is the impact that you can have on others when you stay true to what you know and believe, even in the face of pressure from authority or seductive peers.
Living with integrity is fundamental to owning your own life, and to living your life well. It is also the most powerful stance to take in life, and it forms the backbone of national character that we need to regain our freedom.
Joel F. Wade, Ph.D. is the author of Mastering Happiness
Posted by schnelle on 10/04/12 12:59 AM
I think that Wade makes some great points in the article.The last comment, "Living with integrity is fundamental to owning your own life, and to living your life well. It is also the most powerful stance to take in life, and it forms the backbone of national character that we need to regain our freedom" caught my attention. Integrity truly is a very important position we take in our lives and it plays an important role in our every day life. I also found it interesting to read about Milgram's experiments.
Posted by Frank on 02/06/12 09:19 AM
"One person acting with integrity can have a huge impact on other people; in this case, lowering the compliance with inflicting cruel physical pain from two-thirds of subjects to one-tenth of subjects." - J.W.
A fascinating article on a very interesting experiment. Indeed yes, what "... if Hitler or Stalin or the current purveyors of inhuman coercion could only count on 10% of people to actively or passively go along with their evil plans. Imagine if 90% of the population of America refused to comply with the fascist directives and regulations coming from our government."
In fact, this might be the key factor missing from Ron Paul in his attempt to wake people up & turn away from their big Statist R & D politicians: more people REFUSING to comply with Unconstitutional laws & regulations in our increasingly out-of-control big welfare/warfare state! More people willing to suffer the ridicule (verbal abuse) & pain (physical abuse that might include being jailed, beaten, or worse) by not complying with Unconstitutional laws & regulations. Soon 90% might refuse to comply and then the Statists that run this once great nation might be FORCED to change their policies & tone. Right now, we have tone deaf establishment politicians bought & paid for by the Power Elite leading the majority of Americans (sheeple) into obeying all kinds of nonsense our Founding Fathers would be horrified at.
The 1 good thing about the Ron Paul R3VOLUTION: his ideas of small Constitutional government are now being accepted by 10%+ of the people and especially by the younger generation (upon whose economic backs our debt is now being piled). So there still is some hope, but the majority of Americans remain sheeple willing to submit to tyrannical authority figures and allow them to hurt us all.
Posted by rossbcan on 02/02/12 07:58 AM
"to seek the easiest way out."
translation: THEIR way, to achieve the carrots that they have decided is minimum crumbs to keep the serfs from revolting. Hard way: Anything that deviates from the forcefully imposed "norm", such as charting a new (actually, very old - personal responsibility, accountability) course.
Justice Defined: We are all free to profit or suffer and learn (adapt to excellence) by facing the consequences of our OWN choices. Injustice is to be forced to suffer the consequences of choices of unaccountable (irresponsible) others.
Once slavers achieved "ability to compel" (income tax, et al, under false pretexts) a century ago, the cost was not just financial and material resources. The cost was collective ability to choose, adapt and survive. This (slavery) is the smoking gun, pointed at the corpse of civilization. Once the attrition costs are complete (debasing currency, war and many other methods), the illusion of freedom will be impossible for even morons to hold. Then, (some hope) tyranny will be "necessary" (Machiavailli, falsely framed arguments claiming to prove - "no other option", the logical fallacy of claiming "proof of a negative").
Posted by laceja on 02/01/12 08:49 PM
Problem is, we have been taught by those in power to seek the easiest way out. There's a lot of unlearning to be done.
Posted by chad2 on 02/01/12 05:25 PM
Correct. You have all these individuals doing/seeing different things. BUT there is a spirit about them that leads them in a common direction. That's how hitler did his deeds. That's why the middle east muslims do what they do. Christians, Jews, etc... Individualism is a gift! Something to be embraced! The key is that we all have the same spirit. But it's not good enough to have one like those in nazi Germany. What you want is THE BEST spirit moving the group! That'd be the Holy Spirit! I have experienced It, there is much power and assurance.
Posted by dimitri on 02/01/12 04:56 PM
The 90% who hypothetically refuse to comply would have as many motives and rationalizations for their actions as are their numbers. People are individuals. There are numerous inherent glitches in viewing a critical mass of people as capable of changing the behavior of many. Besides individuality there is also the opposite or the herd instinct. The secondary outcome of the Milgram experiment that is highlighted seems uplifting, but hardly the end of the story.
Posted by Agent Pete 8 on 02/01/12 03:54 PM
Joel F Wade & DB, thanks again for your perfectly perched prose.
Posted by Agent Pete 8 on 02/01/12 03:53 PM
Optout - 12 years is more like 2000+: "Anno Domini".
Ever noticed how the Pope and his mates have serially failed to post any meaningful words on Click to view link ???
Keep digging, get dirtier.
Posted by chad2 on 02/01/12 11:56 AM
Yes, but you always always miss the spirit part! I'm sure you've been to Europe, to Southern California, to the deep South. Don't you sense something different in each place you travel? It's the spirit of that place. Hitler did his deads because the collective spirit of the people became evil. You must seek this truth if you have integrity! Europe has a very godless spirit, very worldly spirit, which results in different things than the US. Southern California is very image driven which is another type of spirit. Now, if you ever find you way to a real spirit driven church, bingo, there's yet another type of spirit and this one is powerful! The Holy Spirit has the power to connect to your spirit and change you! This is why the USA had such a great spirit! When a people, like Hitler, starts to round of the Christians you can be certain that his spirit is not like the one in the church. Therefore, we can draw a conclusion: There is a spiritual battle!!! The evil spirit battles with the Holy Spirit (the only good one). With this truth as one of integrity we must submit to it. When you do you are changed. When a population does it the country is changed.
Posted by Optout on 02/01/12 11:43 AM
And with the 12 years of forced indoctrination in the US we have lost a lot of living with integrity. The public schools are an unknowing accomplice to the erosion of self-responsibility. But as the DB says the internet is starting to change that as many are realizing the mainstream thoughts are merely a mouthpiece for the PE. I have noticed a difference locally in the amount of people beginning to wake up to the fact that fundamentally things are not right. Do whats right and take a stand, many will follow.
Posted by rossbcan on 02/01/12 10:25 AM
"illustrating the extent to which we can be drawn to obey an authority figure against our own beliefs"
"Expertitus", a deadly mental / social disease and collective insanity.
Posted by rossbcan on 02/01/12 10:22 AM
Of course, our slavers (parsaites) have declared war on reason and intelligence. Understand and, therefore have a chance to defeat the vast array of weopons pointed directly at YOU and yours:
Click to view link
Posted by rossbcan on 02/01/12 10:03 AM
NB: "Reason is the non-contradictory integration of experience."
see that and raise to:
Reason is verifying perceptions (of experiences) and rejecting those which do not pass the sniff test of conformance to evidence and proven principles of natural, physical laws of nature, relating action to consequence. Only that which passes the reality filter is allowed to form the worldview of the "reasonable" (In full accord with proven reality).
Click to view link
There is ONLY ONE red pill (objective reality) and, a near infinite number of blue pills (subjective, unverified by reality "opinions").
Those who enslave us by tricking us into incorrect choices by perceptual control are in the business of manufacturing "blue pills" faster than collective experience is able to refute them. The internet has increased the quantity and velocity of information avaiable for refuting "blue pills", a tightening of the perceptual feedback control system of intelligence, in the above link.
Thus, elites are failing to maintain "consent of the governed" by blue pill distractions and frauds. They do, however, intend to remain in control "by any means possible", a matter of survival for parasites without the wit to engage in civilized "quid pro quo".
Elite options, in seeking their goals are the same as the rest of us: force, fruad, honest, mutually agreed trade. They have rejected the latter, their frauds are being refuted faster than they can conceive them. That leaves force and deepening tyranny as the only path left open to elites and their minions. Whether it succeeds or not is totally dependent on the reactionary consequences (blowback, is spookspeak) of "we, the people".