Integrity verses Honesty

When the virtue integrity is mentioned, the concept of honesty often comes to mind. However, integrity and honesty are quite different.

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines integrity as “being of sound moral principal; state of being complete, unbroken.” A person’s integrity reflects his or her soundness of mind and soul.

The US Navy uses the term integrity to describe the seaworthiness of a ship. A vessel with questionable integrity would be at risk in a rough sea. Its hull may not be expected to hold up to a constant pounding of waves, or for some other reason it might lack enough integrity to keep seawater out. A ship with integrity is completely ready for sea.

Honesty is a good word too. People who are honest refrain from deception. They are more forthright in relationships, less apt to cut corners or conform just to be politically correct. Honesty is a personal character trait that is part of one’s reputation. It is a trait that wears well on others even in the case where hearing the truth is painful. Using a military example again, the Navy demonstrates its value for honesty at commissioning ceremonies when it asks its prospective leaders to take the oath , “An officer will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those that do.”

Although honesty is not synonymous with integrity, its absence certainly indicates a lack of integrity. If a person has a reputation of choosing to lie, cheat or steal, that person almost always lacks some type of integrity. When someone demonstrates that they cannot be trusted their dishonest behavior usually reflects a history of unresolved heart wounds. It can be assumed that unless and until such a person engages in a process of facing that history, separating what was true from what was untrue around the circumstances at the source of those wounds, that person will not fare well in the storms of life any more than a weakly built ship would stand the storms of sea.

Integrity: the personal state wholeness; complete. Being strong enough to be honest, open and candid regardless of the temporary cost.


About hamiltonstation

I grew up in New England, graduated from college in upstate NY, spent a few years as a small boat officer with the U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific, then worked 35 years as an industrial automation engineer. My retirement jobs, teaching - 8 years in a public high school as a special needs educator, 3 years as a kayak guide for a small cruise ship company on the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and Canadian Maritimes and 10 years as a ocean kayak guide for a large outdoor outfitter in Maine. For 30 years, my wife and I volunteered in maximum security state prisons, helping inmates with their literacy, developing of the spiritual side of personality, and learning mature social skills - all to eventually assist with their future re-integration into society. My wife and I have 2 adult children. We are now living in a community of friends and continue with our craft and outdoor hobbies of hiking, biking and sea kayaking.
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