Temptation Verses Integrity
We all hope to find our path, to be doing what is best for our soul, for our highest self, to be aligned, in balance, in harmony, to be genuinely true to oneself, I assume. Most, it seems, never find it, and struggle and struggle with all the vicissitudes and challenges of every day life until they die, worn and frazzled. My life experiences has led me to believe that one must endeavor to always deepen one’s personal integrity if one is to find “happiness” and be in the “flow”.
When I was young, personal integrity meant not to tell lies. But now, after many years, I realize that that is only the surface of integrity, that it goes far deeper than this. It has to do with maintaining the inner balance and harmony, and this is a balancing act. Constantly we are being besieged by temptation, it can be as simple as maintaining a healthy diet and not indulging in sweets or unhealthy food, or not doing anything that harms the body. But it can also be much more complex and subtle. For example, one might believe that it is best to fight for one’s country if there is a war, but in reality one might be fighting to perpetuate a corrupt government that enslaves its people through capitalism and lies through the media and/or murders innocent people in faraway lands in the name of “freedom”, like in Syria, Iraq, etc. So one might think one is maintaining one’s integrity by going off and killing people in the name of freedom, but in fact are misled and are really just pawns murdering other pawns in a hidden game of power.
And there are infinite other examples of how we are constantly being tempted to fall from our path and lose our way. Look at John Valjean the noble hero of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”. He was arrested and incarcerated for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a loved one, when they had no money. Capitalism puts billions of people “between a rock and a hard place”, where they must choose between existence and personal integrity. Millions are forced to do something illegal simply in order to survive. Dostoyevski, the great Russian writer had an angelic character in Crime and Punishment who had to resort to prostitution in order to feed her child. These examples in novels are what happens in real life.
Infidelities in relationships is another prominent example. To betray your wife or husband for the thrill of sex with another. How many men marry women who are good women who raise their children and care for them and their home, but with time lose their youthful attractiveness. How many men resolve this when their love doesn’t transcend this obstacle by taking mistresses? It is quite common. I am not hear to judge, only to point out. Perhaps it is the institution of marriage that is false, I am not wishing to blame or judge anyone.
Much of the great literature of the world has this theme underlying its stories. The temptation of Christ is another great example when the devil offers Jesus the choice between splendor and riches or crucifixion. Jesus chose integrity, and death was the price. Martin Luther King said, “If there is nothing to die for, there is nothing to live for”. Shakespeare’s Hamlet exemplified this, in trying to correct the corruption he discovered in his mother, uncle, and the state of Denmark. Which by the way, still stands today as each human being discovers how corrupt the world is, and is faced with trying to correct it or ignore it. Most ignore it, but activists don’t. That is perhaps why the world is in such a state as it is, because the corrupt cultures that we all live in, corrupt the people, and noble characters who will stand up for what is right are rare.
With all the falsity, thievery, corruption and lies that we must daily endure, I am sure we would all love a world where this doesn’t exist, a world of noble characters. And honestly, I only want to be surrounded by and engage with people like this.
Sometimes I feel like the only sane person in a world gone insane. And everyone would agree that this is a sure sign of insanity.