When I was a teenager lied a lot. Mostly little things: Little white lies… sometimes making people feel good (and then me!); exaggerations that made me feel smarter, meant to impress; leaving out an important piece of information for a parent’s decision, so I could get my way. I figured if everyone else did it, then why shouldn’t I? And what was the harm if they made me and others feel good? The problem is that there really are no good lies. We might tell ourselves we are acting with love when we swallow disappointment so as not to hurt a loved one, or tell ourselves “I didn’t really need” when really we did.
Thus in my 20’s I found I had lied so much, to myself and others, that I didn’t know what I wanted or who I was. And so I decided to stop lying – no white lies, no exaggerations, not stuffing down my own needs and wants. And it was such a relief! It takes way too much energy to lie, even the little ones.
What I discovered was that integrity about my words and actions helped me build better relationships. Our lives are lived in relationship. Integrity means learning to live not only as you truly are, but treating the people you meet (stranger and friend) with dignity and worth (our First Principle). That is, treat them as if they are worthy of your honesty, your kindness, your love.
It seems like our news is filled with people who lack this kind of integrity. How do we combat it? By living with integrity ourselves.