Integrity Revealing Our True Colors

Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks — we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.

-Parker Palmer

The Rabbis imagined that God wasn’t sure whether to create human beings and sought advice from the ministering angels. The angels were divided. Those representing the attribute of chesed (lovingkindness) insisted that human beings must be created in order to perform acts of benevolence. Those representing emet (truth) insisted that human beings are full of strife and violence and don’t deserve to be brought into this world.

God chose chesed.

But, instead of simply overruling the angels representing truth, emet was cast down from the heavens to the earth and smashed into countless fragments.

Bereshit Rabbah 8

The Kotzker Rebbe, a Hasidic master, believed that emet didn’t shatter when it was thrown down from the heavens.

Rather, truth was buried beneath the earth, and the only way to recover it is to bury our lies, roll up our sleeves, dirty our hands, and dig deep into the ground to find it.

Reclaiming truth is only half the battle. It is incumbent upon us to internalize those ideas, give them outward expression and ensure that they radiate far into the stratosphere.

Unearthing our truths and allowing them to cast influence is known as the act of Integrity, and is arguably the most critical standard of behavior we can hold ourselves to in our lifetime.

In this Value Spark, we will explore what it means to live a life of integrity.

We will consider when we must act with conviction or when compromise is actually a greater good, and what we stand to gain and lose in either case.

15 minutes

Sometimes, the external reveals what’s hidden inside.

The first source in this text study looks at the typography – the actual letters – of two Hebrew words, and suggests that the way they’re written reflects the nature of what they represent.

Seeking the Authentic Self

Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. -Parker Palmer

Often, crisis events force us to confront our convictions, and through introspection we claim our personal truths. When it comes to sharing them with others, though, we can hold ourselves back from giving those ideas life.

Over the past few months, our world has been turned upside down and our new reality is brimming with contradictions and uncertainties. Some of our truths have been shattered while others have emerged, and some of us have come closer to discovering our authentic self.

15 minutes

We are each passionate about justice issues that draw out our ideals and compel us to act with integrity. When confronting these issues, we unearth our core.

In this exercise, consider some of the justice issues that you’re called to and interpret what that says about who you are.

Acting with Conviction

It can be hard to express our personal truth when it comes into contact with other perspectives.

"When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else, you surrender your own integrity [and] become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

How do we hold on to our integrity when we find ourselves in a situation that challenges it?

What gives us the courage to stick to our ideals when there is risk?

15 minutes

How do you believe you present yourself to others? Do your true colors shine?

Take the Self-Check challenge and then read through real-life scenarios where your integrity can be put to the test.

Once you have worked through them, create your own scenarios describing moments when you stuck to your ideals.

The Need to Compromise

Living a life of integrity isn’t always as simple as practicing what you preach.

Jewish tradition clearly values this path but also understands the need to compromise in order to maintain peace.

At times, we find ourselves in situations when our ideals come into conflict with others and we are forced to reevaluate our priorities.

15 minutes

Create a comic that captures moments over the past few months where you needed to compromise because a conflicting value emerged.

What did you gain and what did you lose?

Walking with integrity isn’t simple. It can be hard to accept your authentic self, especially in the face of others.

But as the Kotzker Rebbi says, it’s our responsibility to roll up our sleeves, dirty our hands, and dig deep into the ground to find our truth and walk proudly with it.

How can you challenge yourself to act with an additional dose of integrity and let the world benefit from what you stand for?

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Created with images by Bruno van der Kraan - "Caves at sundown" • Tingey Injury Law Firm - "Lady Justice."