Integrity starts at the personal level, seeking to be honest with ourselves and others. Integrity in our thoughts and actions arises from accepting that each person is of equal value.
Integrity links our beliefs to our words and our actions. It requires us to find the places where we do not live according to our principles and to review our behaviour.
Usually there are no simple answers to how we might act. Quakers do not have a book of rules about these things. But there are Quaker Queries that help us focus our consideration of how we act.
John Woolman (a Quaker born in New Jersey in 1720) came to realise that to own a slave was inconsistent with Christian understanding and his conscience. Tricky, because America’s main industry depended on the toil of slaves. Woolman’s campaigning was mostly gentle. When visiting, he would insist on paying the slave who had looked after him. He and others who felt this way also preached and spoke persuasively. It took him and others 12 years to convince Quaker Meetings to ban slavery.
We may become aware of corrupt business practices, deliberate deception by lying, secret deals and bribes, coercion and unfair work practices. Integrity may suggest that we should withdraw from many institutions. Yet integrity also requires that we become involved to work for change.
Perhaps we become aware of enslaved workers who make our favorite products. How should we act on this knowledge? Finding the path that allows us to act with integrity can also resolve our internal contradictions, and reduce stress.
The Quaker approach to integrity gives principles, and asks questions. Each person responds in the way they feel appropriate for them and applies the amount of energy that is realistic toward bringing about change. But we must apply the integrity test to how we pursue change - so Quakers are unlikely join in violent actions because violence always promotes more violence.
Integrity is one of several Testimonies developed by Quakers over the years, which can be seen here.