Friday, July 8, 2011

A Lifestyle Choice

Student Doing a Block at Camp MSK
By Kelsey Smith, blue belt

It isn't a feeling or an attitude: it's a lifestyle choice.

The first thing you need to understand is that "integrity" is more than being honorable or honest. It isn't an attitude or feeling you can have fleetingly; in short, integrity is something that affects all aspects of your being, and everything that you do. It isn't a feeling or an attitude: it's a lifestyle choice.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines integrity as "(a) firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility." This is a good definition, but it does not emphasize the weight of of the importance that integrity holds. It is not something that can be done half-time or with half-effort. It's all or none, plain and simple. Integrity is a trait that affects all of our choices, our ideas, and our judgement. You either have integrity, or you don't. There is no in-between.

Like I said before, integrity affects everything, from being honest about our age, to honoring the societal rules and etiquette and having the courage and honesty to admit when you've done something wrong. Holding yourself to a higher level of honor and honesty at all times is only a part of integrity. There is also the matter of how you treat yourself. How can you treat others with respect and honesty if you don't respect or be honest with yourself?

I try to hold myself with integrity, but it's difficult. One such occasion where I was tempted to just let my integrity hit the ground was during a gym class basketball tournament. The winners would receive 50 points of extra credit, guaranteeing a passing grade in the class. My team was in one of the final rounds. The opposing team lost control of the ball, and just as it was about to go out of bounds, I touched the ball, trying to catch it. The referee didn't see me touch the ball, and called it an out on the opposing team. But I knew that wasn't right. It was their ball. My team members told me not to tell, to just let it drop this one time. They needed those 50 points, they said. Don't make us lose, they said. But I wouldn't hear any of it. If I let this go, what else would I be excusing? I had to maintain integrity at all times, not just when it was convenient for me. I went to the referee and told him about the ball. In the end, we lost the tournament that day. But I didn't lose my integrity.

It's hard. It's going to push you to the limits of what you know is right, and what you know you want. There will be hundreds of times where you want to just "forget" integrity and let things be as they are. But despite these temptations, you must push through, and hold to your integrity. Because at the end of the day, either you have it, or you don't. And as a member of Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo, I want to have the honor of being able to say that I am one of the handful left in this world who believe in true integrity.


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