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Purpose, Sociopaths, Integrity and Ethics – Chapter Fifteen

Purpose, Sociopaths, Integrity and Ethics – Chapter Fifteen

Integrity

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The integrity of the system of contribution and co-operation repairs itself and evolves.

 The human condition has evolved through the development of our basic needs. These needs have evolved through co-operation and contribution. History has shown that a sociopath’s behaviour and the resulting destruction they cause, usually leads to their own self-destruction. Out of chaos comes order. The integrity of the system of contribution and co-operation repairs itself and evolves. Democracy is founded on co-operation and contribution.

So, the integrity of the system of human evolution requires co-operation and contribution. Let’s now take this a step further and look at integrity from an ethical point of view. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. We can see the sociopath fails when it comes to integrity, but this usually comes back to bite them in one way or another. We can also see the lack of integrity in our political systems and politicians. Even systems that are supposed to be democratic have politicians that lie and manipulate for power. A lie has its roots in the want for control. Deception has its roots in the want for control. Stealing is a want for approval, control and security.

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To see what others have and what we have not is a temptation to want more – at whatever cost.

As my father looked out of the window, he commented, ‘I am surprised there is a tree left in Flimby Wood with all the walking sticks in Maryport’ (my birthplace). His comment was based on the number of people walking past with walking sticks tucked under their arms while marching down the street to the pub – all claiming the disability pension. I was taken back to that moment a year ago on a visit back to my home town. A friend from the past was telling me he had now retired on a disability pension and life was good. Later that night, I noticed his walking stick against the wall as he rocked and rolled with his wife across the dance floor, putting guys half his age to shame. The imbalance in wealth in society will often create a retreat from ethical choices just to survive with a more comfortable life. To see what others have and what we have not is a temptation to want more – at whatever cost. Sometimes that cost is our integrity.

Let’s take a look at religion as a basis for ethical behaviour. We can look at the Ten Commandments and the Buddha’s Eight-fold path for this. I am not religious but there are valid lessons to learn here.

Ethics

Ethics and the Ten Commandments.

We can see that commandments five through to ten have their base in ethics and integrity.

5: Honour your father and your mother.
6: You shall not murder.
7: You shall not commit adultery.
8: You shall not steal.
9: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

10: You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.

(I don’t know about you but I am certainly not about to covet my neighbours ass!)

Ethics and the Buddha’s Eight Fold Path.

If we look at the three areas under ethical conduct we can see the basis of living with integrity. Areas three through to five.

3: Right Speech
4: Right Action
5: Right Livelihood

Right Speech

The focus of the Right Speech is to avoid harmful language, such as lying or unkind words. It is far better to use gentle, friendly and meaningful words, even when a situation calls for a truth that may be hurtful, despite the follower’s best intentions.

Right Action

The Right Action forms a list of fundamental ethical behaviours all practising Buddhists should follow. These are the Five Precepts:

To refrain from destroying living beings
To refrain from stealing
To refrain from sexual misconduct (adultery, rape, etc.)
To refrain from false speech (lying)
To refrain from intoxicants which lead to heedlessness.

Right Livelihood

Those seeking enlightenment should pick the Right Livelihood to support the other fundamentals of Buddhism. Followers should avoid employment in positions where their actions may cause harm to others, be it directly or indirectly.

Here we can see how the ethics in the eight fold path follow the ethics in the last five Commandments and also that these ethics have a base in system integrity – co-operation and contribution. Right action, right speech, and right livelihood are the basis of integrity.

I also find it interesting that the second commandment is similar to what the Buddha said. You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. How many images do you see in a Christian church or Buddhist temple? It makes them sectarian and I tend to think this was the reason why it was suggested that images should not be worshiped. It is the principles, not the image, which we need to embody. The image is nothing more than imagination and can be distorted – the principles can be tested for truth. A principle is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based.

If we live our lives through these principles, we meet our needs and the needs of others. We have integrity and the system maintains integrity. We continue to evolve. If we don’t, we frustrate our needs and the needs of others. We fail to evolve. The universe doesn’t discriminate. It appears to be an elegant system that seems to have a built-in safety mechanism that eliminates all who don’t adapt to its changing conditions and evolve. Integrity follows the rules of cause and effect, chaos and stability.

Sociopathic tendencies may well be genetic but may also be learned – the ego’s effort to protect the heart from pain and in so doing to harden it. Many criminals show remorse and learn lessons from a lack of integrity. They transform their lives into something better. A lack of integrity will always offer lessons to learn. If you don’t learn the lesson you are doomed to repeat it.

There is a Prime Minister of Australia at who promised before an election, never to bring in a carbon tax under the government she led. Without this promise she would never have been elected. Once in power she moved to bring in a carbon tax, a deal made with other parties and so called independent politicians seeking increased power. This lack of integrity created a massive slide in her approval. It had nothing to do with a carbon tax. Most people understand the need to reduce pollution. The rejection of her was all to do with the lie to gain power at all costs – the lack of integrity. Trust is a connecting habit. If we feel we can’t trust someone we feel disconnected and disempowered. It is one of the reasons why politicians are the least trusted people in society. They far too often sacrifice honesty and integrity for power. I find it interesting that we don’t usually say ‘those in government,’ we usually say ‘those in power.’ I also find it laughable that politicians call each other the right honourable member – nothing honourable in a lack of integrity.

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We have integrity when we see ourselves as part of the whole.

The word integrity stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In the context of wholeness, integrity is the inner sense of wholeness deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. We have integrity when we see ourselves as part of the whole. We lack integrity when we are stuck in this limited and tiny I, me and mine of the ego – stuck in wanting and not giving. Respecting the individual rights of others to meet their needs is the first step to having integrity.

The old saying, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ might be a good place to start.

Don’t bother too much about the problems created by the egos of others. Karma would seem to be the basic universal law of cause and effect in action. It usually catches up on a person one way or another. They become victims of themselves. Accept that the system of integrity must win out at some time in the future and go with the flow – with an acceptance and an allowance of things. We can now see that with conscious choice comes responsibility; our ability to respond – to make a choice. What are you choosing? Are you choosing actions that have integrity or actions that lack integrity? This will determine how happy you are, whether you know it or not! Actions that come from a place of integrity may not give you what you want. They will give you what you need!

The purpose of a good business is to provide a service to the community and, in doing so, make a profit for its shareholders. Many businesses lose sight of this as top executives focus on maximising profits and their personal remuneration – not their service to the customer or the community in general.

The purpose of Government is to provide for the basic needs of the community – education, food, shelter, health and freedom from harm. It should provide basic resources and an environment where people can contribute and co-operate. Politicians are public servants. They should be serving the public not dictating to them.

The blunt truth is not always in your best interests. If my wife asks if her bottom looks big in the dress she has tried on I will always say no. Why? If my wife likes her dress I don’t want to spoil her happiness. Have I lost my integrity by saying this? If we look back to co-operation and contribution we can see that honesty is not a blunt instrument. It can be withdrawn if it hurts no one and causes no harm. The man told he has a serious illness may not tell the full truth to his family. It is designed to stop hurt rather than to deceive to cause hurt.

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