They define moral as sanctioned by or operative on one’s conscience or ethical judgment.
Hmmm, that brings me relief and greater courage to write what I need to write.
You see, on more than one occasion, when I’ve insisted on acting with integrity, I’ve been told to let things slide and stop making a big deal. I’ve endured tremendous, angry pushback and been told I act like the Rule Police.
These criticisms still give me pause. And they hurt. Somewhat because of the obvious judgment that came with the words, but mostly because it all felt (and still feels) unfair. The implication (or outright accusation) that I’m unyielding, incapable of discernment or seeing another point of view, and blindly obedient to every rule is antithetical to who I am.
In fact, I’ve labored over the grey in countless situations and decisions when others have thought I only see black and white – from legal dilemmas affecting a significant number of people to issues as inconsequential as a blogging award.
Each time I was criticized, I wondered how much the person thought I was self-righteous and judgmental. I wondered whether they were right in thinking that. Yes, sometimes, unfortunately. Not pretty, but I think it hasn’t happened much, and I’m working on it.
This is why the dictionary helped me – integrity and morals are very personal things, as indicated by Merriam-Webster’s phrase “one’s conscience.” There are some hard and fast rules, to be sure, but many of the decisions we make must be weighed against our own conscience. For me, I must know and then do what will ultimately bring me peace. (Ultimately being the key word because acting with integrity takes time – to consider all factors beforehand and occasionally deal with backlash from others.)
I understand that others may deem all of this as taking things too seriously, but I must honor the conscience I was born with and do what feels right according to my principles.
I am hard-wired with exceptional integrity. I write that in fear of being judged as self-righteous, but claiming my gifts doesn’t mean I think I’m better than anyone else. I want to stop playing small. I want everyone to stop playing small. There isn’t any lack in this world, and every single one of us can claim and express our gifts without diminishing anyone else.
Which reminds me of Mirriam-Webster’s second definition of integrity: the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.