(Following is my essay on the virtue of integrity, one of the Nine Virtues honored by ADF and one of the most important to me).
Integrity has at least two common definitions. The first is the quality of being morally upright, honest, honorable, and having strong moral principles. The second is the quality of being whole and undivided. For my definition and understanding of integrity as a virtue I find that the second definition will be more helpful.
What do honoring oaths, honesty, and maintaining strength in your own identity and convictions hold in common? They are all qualities of a person who is whole. To lie to others by speaking untruths and to lie to yourself by violating your own principles renders you less than whole. As thinking beings, much of the world and how we interact with it is created by our thoughts, both shared and private. Rendering those thoughts false in the face of reality devalues them, and makes us less than whole. Violating the trust that another holds either by not properly representing the truth or by breaking a promise to them devalues the bonds that you hold with that person – and those bonds of trust are as real as anything that we construct and that influences our lives. Devaluing those bonds erodes both the identity of both the violator and the violated.
Maintaining integrity is a matter of making sure that your words and thoughts match your actions and reality. It is is a necessary quality to cultivate to have a healthy and wholesome relationship with yourself and others, and thus is one of the most important aspects of the foundation of community.