The dictionary defines integrity as the state of being unimpaired; soundness.
We know integrity when we see it. We know the people who have it. We also know, consciously or unconsciously, when we make a decision for integrity over the easier way, the lazier way, the "nobody will know" way. We should have a well developed moral compass that distinguishes between "nobody will care if I skip the mustard in this recipe" and "I just made twenty dollars because that teenager selling Christmas wreathes gave me the wrong change."
At Backpack, we think integrity is about both knowing yourself and forgiving yourself. Integrity is about the journey to the true you. It's about doing the small things well, around the three most important relationships. We need to have integrity in our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with God.
Integrity toward self means knowing when your boundaries are being crossed (especially by you) and protecting yourself from self-betrayal. Self-betrayal is the worst kind of course. It happens when you allow someone to draw you so far out of yourself that you behave in ways you do not respect. It’s a bad feeling and we’ve all done it. You have to forgive yourself quickly, shake it off, and prevent it from happening again by looking at HOW it happened. It is important not to blame another, here or anywhere. As we grow, we take more and more responsibility for our condition and actions. That is integrity with maturity.
Integrity toward others means treating them as you would like to be treated. It also means not projecting your own stuff onto them. So, "they’re always impacting me negatively" becomes "where am I in this gross dynamic or pattern?" Integrity toward others means being honest about what you would like from another and not using manipulation to get it out of them. It means, you guessed it, respecting their boundaries, physically, mentally and emotionally, spiritually, and sexually. Using people shows a lack of personal integrity.
Integrity towards God means we do not pretend God is our mean dad, our bad geometry teacher, or any male figure who rejected us, failed to care for us, misunderstood us, or held unreasonable expectations of us. God is not the person we can never please. That would be us projecting ourselves onto God. Integrity means we never confuse God with religious people or any religion.
God is expressed, for better or for worse, through most religions. We love the Catholic Church because we believe Jesus started it and we have his true presence in the Eucharist. That is why we defend and protect a true and accurate expression of Church, for God, for our mental and spiritual health, and for all of his children on Earth. We have to fight for integrity in the Church. It will not be handed to the world. There are no humanly perfect hands. To be constantly shocked that faith leaders are imperfect actually shows a lack of integrity. Renewal is going to take work, hard work.
Here at Backpack, we create programs to help us all grow, develop our personal integrity, and spread honesty and truthfulness. If you want to be part of our movement, we will help to equip you to do so. We offer what people truly need to understand that they are lovable and valuable every day of their life, in every condition.
Our hope for all of us, thoughtful Backpackers on a journey to soundness, is that we become unimpaired by confusion. Whole. Able for our good life and for doing small things in the day well, with joy.