Feb 1st, 2007 by Sonja

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about integrity. I looked the word up recently on several websites … it means complete or pure or whole. It comes from a Latin word which is also the root word for integer or one. The synonyms for integrity are honesty, unity, and sincerity among others.

I’ve often thought that integrity is something that one can never have taken away from you. One may indeed give it away through acts of commission or ommission. But no one may ever have it taken away from them by others. I’ve been realizing lately that is not true. Others can take your integrity from you and your credibility as well. Once someone makes up their mind to believe a certain thing about you, there is nothing you can say or do to make them change their mind. Sometimes even evidence to the contrary is dismissed out of hand. It can be frustrating and terrifying. And once gone, there is nothing that can be done to retrieve it.

This has caused me to reflect on my grandfather. He was a Teamster. Specifically, he helped organize the union in Springfield, Massaschusetts. In an attempt to break the union up, he, as the union treasurer, was framed in 1939 or 1940. He spent a year in prison for embezzling funds. His integrity was shot.  Gone.  Taken from him by unscrupulous corporate snakes.  I don’t know all of the details and likely never will.  I do know that after approximately a year in prison, the governor of Massachusetts pardoned him.  I believe it was even better than that … I believe his case was withdrawn and thrown out.  As if it never happened.  All because evidence was found exonerating my grandpa.  He returned to his post, his name, integrity and credibility restored.

I’ve been wondering, though, what happens if or when that evidence is not found?  Or the evidence is not believed?  How does one live and work and play with people who do not trust the core of who you are?  Can you?  What if you woke up one morning and found out that some of your dearest friends didn’t really know you or want to know you at all?  Then what would you do?

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