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Virtues: Integrity

Thanks to druidkirk for proofreading.

Integrity has no equivalent translation in Czech. It´s used as a foreign word and few are actually aware of its meaning. However, in order to become a Dedicant of Our Druidry, one can´t remain a foreigner to Integrity. So here is my understanding.

Integrity is the state of having all parts of your soul related to one another. Psyche is an integrated network. Most remarkably, it´s the interconnectedness of one´s religion and ethics with “real life”. The opposite of Integrity is Hypocrisy, double standards or leading a full-blown double life.

The best example of the use of Integrity comes from my understanding of marital fidelity. Marriage is an alliance formed by a contract and infidelity is thus a breach of contract. To consider myself a person with Integrity, I feel I must stand for the promises I made.
Further contemplations about the nature of fidelity lead me to the practice of polyamory as a young woman. There´s hardly a better example of the importance of Integrity than in an integrated network of romantic partners. Pagan author Raven Kaldera lists “The Pariah Factor” as polyamory-endangering demon number one. This ethically highly demanding lifestyle is notorious for bringing up all sorts of Integrity challenges – some of which may never be solved in a 100% ethical manner until there is discrimination.

As a BDSM practitioner, I´ve seen many examples of a double life. While I don´t have the authority to judge such choices, I feel urged to make wiser choices with the advantage of coming to the lifestyle young.

Polyamory, BDSM and Paganism together make a wide experience with coming-outs. Coming out is, essentially, an effort for more Integrity in one´s life. Some people feel that they can´t live a fully virtuous life if they can´t be true to their Catholic aunty Betty about their religious or other practices. My position is that while it would be good – awesome – if everybody shared our world-view and ethics, that´s not going to happen and we gotta deal with that. This is where the pride and self-styled martyrdom must concede to Moderation.

My understanding of Integrity is one of pragmatism. Partial transparency is better than none. Ethical polyamory is better than infidelity even though you won´t be able to be completely honest about your relationship with everybody. You don´t owe them such a duty that you do to your partner. Same with your Gods. It´s better to worship them in secret than not worship them at all. The condemnation of the Christian Wiccans and alike seems way too harsh to me.

I have said before I consider Courage the most demanding Virtue. Here I´d like to add that any heroic sacrifice is made by free-will decision only. Nobody should be forced into martyrdom by others. While it may seem laughable in my highly-secular country, my heart goes out to all those Pagan teenagers who get harassed, ill-treated and mocked for their religion, however immature their understanding may be. Also many of those in the lifestyle have brought great sacrifice with their coming outs. I can remember how tedious and embarrassed I felt when I found out my New Religious Movement teacher knows that I have a Pagan website. Fortunately for me, he was very understanding.

As a religious studies scholar on participant observation I often get into an ethical conflict involving my confession. According to my understanding of Integrity, I try to find the best common language with those I am speaking with, rather than shouting out loud words they perceive as offensive, such as Pagan. Integrity is a crucial Virtue to the interfaith dialogue. It ensures we grasp the fine line between being judgemental about the faith of others´ and yet stand firm on our beliefs.