I value integrity. That word, to me, means much more than adherence to a moral code: it means ‘the state of quality of being entire, complete and unbroken – as integral to my daily life i.e. my actions. Integrity seems to show itself when I stop obsessing over codes of conduct and explore a more demanding journey of my own toward being whole.’ (Parker Palmer)

Parker Palmer, Brene Brown, Bill George – their research and published practical explanations each point me in a direction of values dedicated to developing self-awareness and deeper integrity. Brown, currently at a high point in her popularity, openly discusses vulnerability and tolerance as vital elements of maturity and sustained integrity.

Some of us have launched a Chicago Campaign of Compassion and are teaching compassionate acts in classrooms where K-5 kids are interested and want to compete for doing “the most acts of kindness” in a single day. We collaborate with students at multiple Chicago colleges and universities committed to organizing neighborhood residents and featuring the goodness among families easily paralyzed by gun violence. We don’t hear enough about them. In our small way, we seek to interrupt the anger that culminates in aggressive acts.

This is very hard work. However, it can be done, and organizations are actively pursuing exercises for employees in mindfulness and emotional intelligence as results have shown that, while increasing productivity, they sustain a focus of feeling ‘whole’ at work. Religious and spiritual organizations are exploring the distinction between “patience” and “tolerance”, one being (simply) waiting while the other practices neurological curiosity and acceptance. My experience in both corporation and church with these exercises is one of awkwardness first, then calm, then curiosity, then connection easily with someone sitting beside me; the integrity of my exercise shows itself.

These are challenging times. We are in the middle of the hard part of a good thing. Integrity, as David Brooks might remind us, needs demonstration! Yesterday, July 4th, was a day of celebration and gratitude in America for our differences and yet our tolerance of one another, a true recognition of remaining integral to change; when you have a chance go march in a local parade, buy someone a cup of coffee that looks different than you, practice, practice, practice.

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