I had originally planned to write about a different topic, was well on my way in developing the article, then I realized at some point that I kept coming back to just what is honor and integrity? So here we have it my exploration on the subject…
Honor and integrity, we say and hear these words often; “A good Master/Dominant is honorable, a person of integrity!” “Our community is based on honor and integrity,” “I’m honorable, a person of great integrity…” Yet, I find that in reality, the concept of honor and integrity is rather vague for many. In the past when I’ve asked about honor and integrity (and honesty by extension) the topic usually ends up spiraling away from the primary focus. This, of course, has led me to the conclusion that for the most part, we don’t have a clear cut view of what honor and integrity consist of or is, but we have more of a rough estimate, per se. It may be easier for us to say that a particular action is honorable, or maintaining one’s position on a subject or action is a sign of ‘great’ integrity. But candidly, I say the amount of honor/integrity a person possesses/manifests cannot be determined by a single act or even two or three acts for that matter. Both honor and integrity are time and situation tested. They are parts of an individual’s character and core essence that will be pulled out and developed over years. Some are more innately inclined to behave in such a way while some others have to restructure their mental/spiritual space by unlearning and starting fresh – neither being better than the other, of course. But no matter how one comes to developing honor and integrity during their journey in the world, make no mistake about it; much work is required to maintain such a way of being. That’s a part of the ‘human factor’ which cannot be overlooked or dismissed.
Honor, as defined by Merriam-Webster, includes but is not limited to:
- good name
- a keen sense of ethical conduct
- one's word given as a guarantee of performance
Integrity, as defined by Merriam-Webster, includes but is not limited to:
- firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values
When I think of integrity, in particular, I use the analogy of ancient structures that are still standing today, such as the great pyramids. They were built soundly skilled hands. The pyramids have been around for thousands of years, and short of being bombed or being a part of some catastrophic natural disaster, they will be around long after you and I have faded to dust. Even the Sphinx was battered, but it still remains (sans the nose). Withstanding the trials and tribulations of time, that is integrity. Solid integrity does not allow for anything that will weaken the whole or compromise what has been built. Time brings about a variety of experiences that allows us to not only see the character of others but the character of ourselves. We are able to use the time to face the gauntlet; run the obstacle course; go with the flow; experience the training ground to see who we really are at the core, not the façade of how we wish to be seen. That is the deciding factor of whether or not one is honorable or a person of great integrity – examining the actions of an individual over time not in a single instance.
I remember communicating with a submissive about her ‘relationship’ that had just dissolved. The dominant that she believed she had a relationship with had lied to her repeatedly throughout the course of time that they had known each other. She was never sure of her place in his life; he dissuaded her from saying that she was his submissive. And what they both believed as individuals about the ‘relationship’ differed greatly. Yet, in the end, she said, “Where else will I meet a man of such honor and integrity?” Yeah, I had that look on my face, also. You see, moments like this cause me to wonder has my understanding of honor and integrity come from a parallel universe. She actually believed that this dominant was a man of great honor and integrity in spite of his actions had shown her. I spent plenty of time considering that conversation and those involved. I also used the conversation to examine what I believed about honor and integrity not just in regards to others, but myself and my interactions with others in the community.
It’s difficult to have a discourse on honor and integrity without delving into the philosophical perspectives of an individual. However, I believe that there are some basics to helping us all to know honor and integrity in more definitive ways instead of a vague or romanticized idea. As I mentioned before, time is the great tester of honor and integrity. Time is the canvas on which the picture is painted – nice and clear! Time requires patience and being steadfast. Don’t overlook the small details; both honor and integrity require a solid foundation and that is built not only with what seems paramount but all of those little minute details that can be easily disregarded. Nothing lasts without a solid foundation and a foundation of façades, lies (blatant and by omission), fear, hate, manipulation and the like is no foundation at all. Anything based on has been fabricated of weak ‘materials’ and poorly constructed. A person of honor is consistent over time; consistent in their evolution/growth, consistent in maintaining their principles, and consistent in their relationships with others, which lead me to my next point…
As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Yes, some people are quite eloquent; their words are like decadent and exotic candy for the ears. But when the rubber meets the road, then what? Where are those words? What is being done? If there are no actions to back up the words or a person’s actions do not coincide with what they have espoused, then there you have it – they are not about actions but about the ideas associated with actions. It is far easier to say anything, but doing requires courage sometimes. To act demands more energy than to speak, it also states a level of commitment or dedication to one’s beliefs and espoused philosophies. The individual is not simply giving lip service, but following through.
It is my opinion as well that there is a certain amount of transparency when it comes down to honor and integrity. There is nothing to hide, per se, what you see is what you get. Granted deep personal details may not be shared with the masses, but those in the world of an individual tend to know clearly where they stand – it is not some vague estimation. Honesty is used with care not in a way to undermine or hinder the growth, joy, and accomplishments of another, but to uplift and support (even if that includes tough love).
What about the human factor? None of this is said to overlook the human factor, but to encourage us all to strive for excellence in areas honor and integrity and to help us develop a clearer vision to recognize honor and integrity in the world around us. I do not believe that there is one singular point where no more work has to be done to develop or maintain honor/integrity. It is an ongoing endeavor, never-ending and is primarily displayed through actions more than the ideas we hold. Even when one has shown us they are not honorable, that situation also tests our own personal codes – do we go along with the flow or excuse ourselves somehow? How we handle such speaks to the fortitude of our own integrity.
We all are where we are, but if we continue to strive for excellence, each day we will get better at being our best.