Excerpt: Integrity

On Integrity:
Integrity usually means wholeness, completeness, soundness or lack of impairment, and Erickson clearly applies these meanings to his ideas about life's last phase.  Integrity can also have more specialized meanings.  A person with moral integrity, for example, adheres to high standards of virtue in his personal conduct.  In intellectual inquiry, integrity seeks truth based on verifiable facts and sound logic.  Conceptual integrity requires an idea to be internally consistent, not self-contradictory.  An individual displays integrity when he represents himself honestly, acts in good conscience and honors just obligations.  A family displays integrity when, through shared ideals and bonds, its members validate the parental marriage, rear children to adult competence, establish a refuge of love and caretaking for each other, and discharge the economic, social and political functions appropriate to families.  An economic, social, political or legal institution exhibits integrity when it rewards adult competence and reinforces the rights, laws and duties that maximize freedom within the constraints needed for social order.  Society itself demonstrates integrity when its members, families, institutions and traditions recognize the nature of man and coordinate it with the ideals of civilized freedom.  These observations imply the need for integrity at all levels of a coherent social system:  in the individual, in the family, and in the institutions that sustain the overarching structure of society.  In analogy to a living organism whose survival and function depend upon its constituent organs, a society may be seen as a dynamic entity whose overall integrity depends upon the integrity of each of its interacting parts.  To achieve a systemic integrity--to avoid a literal disintegration of the whole-- a society must permit the free but orderly incorporation of man's biological, psychological and social nature into its economic, social and political fabric.