Recommit to Virtue: Part 8 of 10 – Integrity or Greed

Gandhi’s seventh societal blunder is politics without principle.  Principle-based integrity is built on sincere accountability.  In the political arena, those who seek power too often engage in actions deemed unethical, deceitful, and based on personal greed.  Leaders act without principle and assume that the end good will redeem the method of execution.  Gandhi’s greatest contribution was his ability to fuse his spiritual values with practical politics.  His objective was to spiritualize the political through a focus on humankind.

Integrity and greed are both about honesty.  A decision is made to be honest in all dealings by adhering to personal ethics, or to disregard truth, and then dishonestly move to acquire anything and everything, regardless of the cost.  Integrity is about truthfulness to self and others.  It is consistency between thoughts, words, and deeds.  Greed is covetousness to the point of obsession.  It’s about manipulation, dishonesty, and deception.  Greed is “getting” at all costs, including lying, stealing, deceit, and distortion for personal gain. True integrity is not easy to determine because it is based upon personal motives.

Integrity is a deep-seated value of rightness.  It is consistency of knowledge, actions, values, methods, measures, thoughts, and principles.  Integrity is often regarded as the quality of having an intuitive sense of ethics and truthfulness.  Integrity begins in the mind and soul, and for this reason it is difficult to measure because personal motives can rarely be validated.  So many of our true motivations are, at best, unseen or left to self-report.  The political “spin” is the enemy of integrity.  In the political arena, meaning and motive are as difficult to pin down as it is to stick jell-o on a wall or move mud up a hill.  Integrity is consistency of character combined with a committed refusal to engage in behavior that evades responsibility.  Integrity is freedom from deceit, hypocrisy, or duplicity.  It is honesty in intention.  At the heart of integrity is truthfulness in all conduct and all communications. Honesty and integrity are the marks of greatness. People with integrity seek to be sincere in all communications by becoming a person who keeps confidences, curbs sarcasm, and avoids dishonesty.

Integrity is understanding what is right, ethical, or best, and then acting appropriately upon that knowledge.  Conversely, greed is understanding what is right or best, but then acting on a desire to possess more than one needs or deserves.  It is an unbalanced desire to possess wealth, status, power, or goods.  Greed is coveting what others have or are.  It is a strong drive for excess attention, possessions, status, acclaim, and so on.  Greed, like all vices, can dominate earthly thoughts.  Greed is identified by disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, treason, hoarding, trickery, exploitation, violence, and corruption, all for personal gain.

Originally posted on October 14, 2011 on