Monday, March 4, 2013

Two Stories About Integrity.

Tammy's post here touched on the theme of integrity and put me in mind of these following two stories - 

A man I knew quite well told me the following true story:

A friend of his visited a building site.  He found the demountable site office open but unattended, so entered and sat upon one of the metal seats.  While waiting, he noticed a paper bag under one of the seats and being bored, he looked inside. Surprised, he found that it was filled with cash.  He spent some time counting it.  The paper bag contained over $330,000. He stood and looked outside.  There was nobody on site and nobody had seen him there.   He had not been expected and nobody but himself knew that he had any reason for being there that day.  It seemed that he could take the bag and the cash and nobody but himself would know what he had done.  What should he do?  

He held the bag until someone arrived that he could hand it on to.  "I think that I am an honest man," he told my friend, "but I know that I am at least $330,000 honest."  

How honest am I?  Am I - or are you - willing to sell our integrity for $1?  Probably not.  What about $1,000?  We hope not. What about $330,000? ..  or $1,000,000?  Is there any price for which I am willing to sell my integrity; to sacrifice honesty?

I used to ask our children this, when they seemed inclined to lie in order to escape the consequences of something they had done.  What price integrity?


Which reminds me of another story, attributed usually to Winston Churchill, and sometimes to George Bernard Shaw:

Churchill sat at dinner beside a woman who flirted outrageously with him all evening, (Churchill was married).  He finally whispered to her, "Madam, would you go to bed with me for five thousand pounds?"  "My goodness," she simpered, "well, perhaps.."   "What about a pound?" countered Churchill.  Highly offended, the woman retorted, "what do you take me for!?" "What you are," replied Churchill, "has already been established.  All we are quibbling over now is the price."

Ouch.  And touche.  Very true.

Integrity to me means having my actions be consistent with my beliefs.  This definition allows room for us to behave sometimes very differently from one another, but still each hold true to integrity.  We may not have approved the actions of Javert from Les Miserables, but no-one can question his integrity.  Likewise, Saul of Tarsus and Paul after his journey to Damascus, behaved very differently - but both behaved with integrity.

I guess it just comes down to this: do we believe in being honest?  Then: are my actions consistent with my beliefs?

What do you think?


  1. Great post mum! Thanks for the thoughts this Monday morning :)

    xo Tammy

  2. Ooh, it's always a tough one, trying to work out if you'd give back the money. I know I would, but if I'm completely honest I have to admit it's got more to do with my sceptical nature than integrity. My first thought would be "I bet there's a hidden camera somewhere, taping me to see what I'll do. I'd better be blatantly honest so I don't shame the family and make my mother go into exile."

    1. Haha - See how honest you were to tell us that? Your mother would be proud! :)

  3. Thanks Mum! I like the stories. Hahaha, touche to that flirtatious woman :P

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  5. Good story and congratulations on being nominated for the VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD over at Nina's blog.

    1. Thank you Michelle! I just saw Nina's Blog. What a nice surprise! :)

  6. Sandy

    Thanks for popping over to my blog, I notice you didn't leave your blog address, if you want to go back and leave it, we will all get a link and title to your last post - just a thought:)

    You don't need to leave your email or register.