A Note concerning Moral Integrity (11/9/17)

In the struggle to live a life of moral and psychological integrity, we undertake the greatest and noblest challenge posed to us – beyond that, even, of mere survival and the protection of our loved ones. It is no secret that the face that we present to the world and the actual medley of contradictions, weaknesses, dangerous proclivities, and uncertainties that lurk behind our concealing mask seldom coincide. So great are the social pressures and inducements to hide these disturbing and problematic features of our inner selves that we are practically compelled to be (white or outright) liars and hypocrites – persons living double lives. Thus, one must really cherish honesty above all other virtues before it is possible to make serious headway against peer pressure and collective opinion. If we value social success and broad acceptance by others more than honesty and transparency/authenticity, we will inevitably feel compelled to conceal those irksome and unsightly features and facts about ourselves that are likely to provoke disapproval or social ostracism. If we wish to protect those close to us from truths that are likely to jeopardize their trust, admiration, and love for us, we may resort to deceit and disguise in order to preserve the status quo.

The courage required to act with independence in the face of the contemptible crowd of unworthy and inferior judges must not be poisoned by hatred or filled with blinding hostility, for this is likely to lead to misanthropic bitterness and tormenting alienation. The proper attitude of the brave and honest soul towards the fickle, distracted multitude is that of a wise and wary parent towards unruly children – or that of a traveler towards a pack of hounds encountered on the road. Self-command is the key here. The unruly children and the pack of dogs are always looking for any sign of fear or weakness in us – some affect or blind spot that can be provoked and exploited to knock us off balance.

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