Integrity as Discipline

Department: 

Dear Editor: I was glad to see Richard Grossman address the population crisis in your May/June 2015 issue, both for the sake of this grave topic, and also because he organizes his arguments around the SPICE acronym for describing key Quaker values, or “testimonies:” Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality (and Grossman adds Stewardship). Some Friends object to SPICE on the grounds that it would not have been recognizable to George Fox, but I regard the formula as a very succinct and very accurate description of our concerns since at least the nineteenth century.

Friend Richard discusses the application of Integrity to our extravagant use of natural resources – for example, the artificially low price of gasoline. I invite Friends to seriously consider his explanation of how oil companies keep the price of gas down by externalizing its high ultimate cost to human, animal, and climate health. At the same time, I think we can add something valuable to his definition of Integrity as “telling the truth” and “to be whole and undivided.”

It’s a happy coincidence that Integrity appears in the middle of the SPICE acronym, because Integrity is the glue that binds them all together. There is no need to be abstract or vague about Integrity. It is sufficient to say that all of the testimonies demand that we reconsider our habits, values, and priorities; that we search incessantly for more just and compassionate choices; and, above all, that we act consistently according to these testimonies, especially when it is difficult or disagreeable to do so. Integrity, therefore, is the discipline to keep acting responsibly, even when it demands personal sacrifice.

– Mitch Gould, Portland, OR