THE PRICE OF INTEGRITY
My friend once told me “Every person has a selling point”. What he actually meant to say was that every individual will reach a point where he succumbs to the very forces that he had been resisting. The fact that the individual had survived so long is a pointer to the level of integrity that he had been able to muster up in the course of his living. He succumbs when he is unable to bear the burden of the cross anymore. That Jesus did it till the ultimate end was what made him a God. We have such extraordinary people come from time to time and make a difference to humanity. We are not such extraordinary people but there are still amongst us those silent but strong individuals who have stuck on to what they believed in and tried to make a difference despite all the suffering they had undergone. They are those who ultimately lead an authentic life. But at what price is the question here.
We read with admiration about those honest officials in the administration who had refused to toe the line and gone about doing their job quietly and efficiently. The system does not allow it for in the next few days the same newspapers report about the transfer of these officials to places from where they will not be a threat to them. What is the price these officials pay? Destabilization of their family life and being put on the non- favoured list. Some may succumb to such destabilizations when they can no longer take it, for that is their selling point. A person’s weakest point is the family and he would like to keep them insulated from the dangers that may rise from the discharge of his duties. This is the plight of the honest official. There is also a lurking danger of a loss of self esteem.
At the other end of the spectrum we have those who have no qualms in pandering to the demands of the powers that be and in the process sell themselves. They are easily bought for their only motive is to promote themselves with whatever means available to them. How much exhibition of sycophancy we see with the sole purpose of moving up the organization! What immediately comes to mind is the play by Christopher Marlowe ‘Doctor Faustus’ in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge.
I shall tell you the story of a girl who has being pursuing her Phd and it has taken her longer than expected because she refused to compromise on her integrity by extrapolating the results without conducting enough trials to ensure the stability of her findings even though there were suggestions to this effect. But at the end of it all she is now happy that she has the satisfaction of having stuck on despite the trauma she had undergone in the process. At one point in time she even thought of dropping from the programme. I have been witness to the happenings through the entire period. We need not blame anybody except the system that makes you succumb. You fight the system, you make a difference. During our conversations I had told her that I was happy that she has been honest and gone by the dictates of her conscience but that there is always a price one has to pay for this. I know what price she had to pay.
The distractions are many and the desires are endless and as long as these remain and we run after them, we can never be honest and will be prepared to do anything to satisfy ourselves and in the process like Faust sell our soul to the devil.
The level of integrity is therefore directly proportional to the price one has to pay. How much are we prepared to endure and what do we really get out of it? Integrity brings with it a sense of self esteem, a confidence and a happiness that you have been able to ward away the temptations that you confront frequently on your path. A satisfaction that you have lived your life in an authentic manner and there in lies the key to the meaning of life. At that ultimate level of integrity you become priceless.