Thursday 25 February 2016

Global Integrity 4

 Facing Ourselves
Moral wholeness for a whole world

Integrity is moral wholeness—living consistently in moral wholeness. Its opposite is corruption, the distortion, perversion, and deterioration of moral goodness, resulting in the exploitation of people. Global integrity is moral wholeness at all levels in our world—from the individual to the institutional to the international. Global integrity is requisite for “building the future we want—being the people we need.” It is not easy, it is not always black and white, and it can be risky. These entries explore the many facets of integrity with a view towards the global efforts to promote sustainable development and wellbeing.


Integrity is a way of being. It reflects the good in us, the positive side of human nature. It requires us to face up to our own strengths and weaknesses. It is nurtured through:

--a vigilant awareness of our human tendency toward self-deception and rationalization as well as our heroic aspirations to do good
--a virtuous humility to admit our vulnerability to not getting integrity right as well as for distorting and diluting our moral responsibilities
--a voluntary commitment to outside support and accountability from healthy friendships, organizations, and communities as well as relevant codes of ethics.
“From the Armenian genocide at the dawn of the 20th century to the horrors of Darfur at the threshold of the 21st century, the human capacity for evil is as jilting as it is unfathomable. Even more disturbing is our calculated silence and rationalized inaction in response to such atrocities. The reality of evil and suffering, from the horrors of genocide to the darkness of our own hearts, is pervasive and perplexing....

Are we wired for self-deception? From a social psychology perspective, our need to calm cognitive dissonance [the disconcerting sense of disharmony between our ideal self and actual self] compels us to distort our memories, our motivations and our morality. Or, to paraphrase Walter Lippmann on a personal level, there can be no liberty for the individual who lacks the means by which to detect his or her own self-deceptions. So how do we pursue a virtuous life, how do we, in the words of Solzhenitsyn, recognize [in ourselves] “the line separating good and evil that passes through every human heart”? ... [We must] consider the challenge of personal responsibility and what may contribute to moral courage and everyday heroism or destructive inaction and self-justification in the face of evil and suffering.”

Facing Up to the Challenge of Evil and Suffering (2013), Friends of the Trinity Forum, Geneva-Genève. (Excerpts from the Introduction and Conclusion, Michèle Lewis O’Donnell, pp. 4, 33).

--How do you understand the potential for evil in yourself?
--What psychological framework or worldview informs your understanding?
--What practical safeguards do you have to discern and deal with self-deception?
--Give a personal example of ordinary heroism--the other and  more positive side of human nature.

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