Last week, on my way to the fitness center to work out, I had an accident. It was not exactly my finest moment as it was my first accident in nearly 20 years. While I don’t pride myself on being a great driver, I do consider myself to be a safe driver. Well, at least for brief moment that went out the window. In the week that followed I had to talk to several insurance people concerning what had happened. Along the way I was recorded. Asked to recount the events. To be honest, I felt like I was being placed under a fine toothed comb and I was waiting for them to ask for my blood-type and other information to verify my story.
At first I was rather offended that so much information was needed just to resolve what ended up being a rather minor finder bender. However, in time I learned to realize why I had to retell the story so many times, why I had to be recorded and why I had to verify that my story was true to the best of my knowledge. Our society has forgotten what it means to be a person of integrity. To be honest, I don’t think too many people today even know what that word means.
The best way to describe what integrity is to describe a bridge. A bridge that has integrity is a bridge that can be trusted to perform as it was designed to perform. The Golden Gate Bridge is a great example of a bridge of integrity. It is such a great example of something that performs as it was designed to do disaster movies depict it all the time. They essentially show that short of a natural (or in some cases supernatural) disaster, that bridge will continue to perform as it was designed to perform. It is trustworthy. Perhaps the most famous bridge without integrity is the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (or Galloping Gertie) of Washington which collapsed on November 7th, 1940, just months after it was opened to the public. The images of this bridge’s demise is so iconic that once you see it you will never forget. The bridge looked as if it were made of water as it swayed to and fro in the wind. It is easy to see the bridge collapse if you never have a simple google or youtube search will bring it up. Watching that video spooked my kids. They certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable riding in a car on that bridge and they had no desire to even walk on it.
A person with integrity would be like the Golden Gate Bridge. Nothing short of a disaster beyond his control will cause his trustworthiness to fail. I remember when people used to “shake on it.” (Or at least my father remembers those days). I do at least remember the day my father ceased to “shake on it.” He entered a deal with a movie producer to do special effects for a low budget film. My father trusted the man to keep up his end of the deal. My father wasn’t paid. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of materials and labor were never reimbursed. That leaves a rather negative impression about the “word” of others.
Shortly after my fender bender last week someone asked me why I wouldn’t bend the truth to keep it from going on my record. The answer was simple. I am a person of integrity. I want people to be able to stand on my word and my work. I want people to be able to trust me in their heir of need. I can’t do this if my actions look more like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge than the do the Golden Gate Bridge.