Has integrity lost its luster? I recently saw a statistic that one of the top 5 values for people over 75 is integrity. None of the younger generation valued integrity in the top 5. I started wondering, do I value integrity? Do I value it more in myself or others? I discovered that I evaluate myself and other people more on what they’re able to accomplish than whether they have integrity. It’s the people who succeed that get all the press, not the people who do it the right way. It almost seems that to get ahead or to “make it” you need to cut corners. If I don’t cheat, I’ll fall behind everyone who is willing to cheat.

It wasn’t until my Vipassana precepts that I really started to think about Right Speech. Specifically, I thought about my willingness to lie to make my life easier. I would rarely like about big things, but I wouldn’t think twice about lying to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to avoid a conflict. Even more frequently I would withhold information. I thought that if I didn’t say anything than I wouldn’t be lying.

Vipassana has forced me to strengthen my integrity; I try not to avoid difficult situations by remaining silence or by telling simple lies. When I started to change, I discovered how much stronger my words are becoming since I’m talking from a platform of integrity. It’s sad to think that integrity has become less important to people over the last century. Maybe it will slowly come back. Time to meditate.

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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