Living With Integrity
“Living with integrity” what does that phrase even really mean? Living in uprightness? Being sincere? The offers of “Probity” and “rectitude” just made me snort. Defining the word integrity brought me to terms that seemed on a spectrum almost. The definition offered synonyms that sounded as if they came from a panel of Kings and noblemen, gastroenterologists, and wise hermits living in monasteries. Some of the words were simple and plain like “trustworthy” “decency” and “fairness”. Other examples were more lofty like “high-minded” and “righteousness”. But what does it truly mean to live in integrity?
Defining integrity with a simple synonym lacks depth and illustration so I will paint the explanation with a description of a person who I believe exemplifies this phrase. This man is a teacher. (A very solid place to start). His specific passion is music. He is the choral director and music instructor at the high school my children attended and he has proven to be a man living in integrity.
He greets his charges every morning with a challenge to be good and solid people in a sonorous voice that makes one know he himself is capable of doing just that. The way that he speaks and enunciates is powerful and clear and true. His strong and solid physical frame, and his kind eyes and smile are his vehicles for expressing the sincerity that he extends to all his pupils. The music he shares with them and then elicits from their own hearts and bodies signifies the power he has to reach out and touch them. It is joyous and full and moving.
He has a polish and depth that my son has revealed unknowingly, when sharing stories about how his teacher encouraged acceptance and kindness towards one another. This man’s ability to enthusiastically and emphatically express his patience and tolerance was not lost on my own young son who described how his teacher would speak to his classes with humor and honest appraisal that encouraged and evoked a spirit of generosity toward each other. One could sense it from this man as he brought forth the music from his charges on the stage.
His students were clearly unique – some with obvious challenges, a pregnant belly, gender considerations, physical and mental disabilities, the many usual challenges of teen aged years, but they blended and bonded when they raised their voices in song as he stood before them and led them through the paces.
I see this man in my mind’s eye when I think of living in integrity because he exudes it in such a multitude of ways. The icing on the cake was the beautiful letter he sent to my graduating son. I have no doubt he practices this each year for every senior that leaves his flock. The specific examples and reflections he offered on Ian told me how well he knew and understood my son. What he may not have known as clearly was the impact that he himself had on shaping this delightful young man. Integrity here has been transmissible. Thank you sir for a job so well done!