Are You Living a Life More of Integrity Than of Expediency?

Integrity: a now undervalued value.

Posted Oct 08, 2019

Pete Simon, Flickr. CC 2.0
Source: Pete Simon, Flickr. CC 2.0

As the presidential campaign accelerates, I am reminded at how much expediency (ahem) trumps integrity, especially when it's inexpedient. Candidates deliver focus-group-tested phrases more than deeply held truths.

Their spinmeisters admit that in the primaries, they have candidates say what it takes to mobilize their base and later, change their tune to appeal to the moderate general electorate. No wonder that politicians rank even lower than car salespeople in Gallup polls of trustworthiness.

Of course, prioritizing expediency over ethics isn’t limited to politicians. Think of how often in the workplace, people posture, withhold, even sabotage to get what’s expedient for them.

And don’t even get me started about salespeople and their nonprofit analog, fundraisers. Wouldn't most of us rather buy a car on Amazon based on reader and expert reviews than having to resist a car salesperson's pushing us to buy his or her dealer's brand of car, especially a fully-loaded high-margin car plus poor-value extras such as insurance through the dealer and an extended warranty, not to mention getting us to pay as much as possible?

In our personal lives, relationship ads provide a vivid example of the extent to which people will sacrifice integrity for perceived expedience. Their photos make them look better than they are, whether Photoshopped, distant, grainy, and/or a decade old. Their self-description makes them seem like Jesus incarnate. Of course, that’s foolish because a deceptive photo or self-description may garner a date but the deception, once revealed, will be a huge turn-off, or at minimum, begin a relationship on a foundation of dishonesty.

And then there’s the media. Despite dropping out from the real world and deriving their opinions from the outside-the-real-world bubble of journalism school and fellow opters-out, people with less experience in the real world than do most of us, many of today's journalists have the hubris to ignore their near-sacred obligation to fairly report in favor of using rhetorical tricks to manipulate us into buying their lemming-like world view and opinions on policy and candidates. The media’s inordinate power thus makes it a potent eroder of societal good. Integrity requires fair-mindedly presenting the full marketplace of benevolently derived ideas.

Now, let’s turn to you. Try this self-inventory:

1. At work, how often do you choose integrity over expediency when it’s not in your self-interest?

a) Always

b) Usually

c) Sometimes

d) Never

2. In your romantic relationship(s), how often do you choose integrity over expediency when it's not in your self-interest?

a) Always

b) Usually

c) Sometimes

d) Never

3. With platonic friends, how often do you choose integrity over expediency when it's not in your self-interest?

a) Always

b) Usually

c) Sometimes

d) Never

The takeaway

We’re all human and so succumb at least occasionally to choosing expediency over integrity, but perhaps this article will encourage you to more often choose wisely.

I ad-lib on this topic on YouTube.

This is part of a series on undervalued values.