A Simple Lesson in Integrity


Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching – C.S. Lewis

Over the years I have seen and experienced some great examples of integrity and some disappointing times where an individuals integrity has been breached.

Integrity is one of those words bandied about without always knowing the correct definition.
So, when in doubt, Google!

Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Rewind several months ago and I’m sat outside a small restaurant in the old part Ibiza Town, up in the castle.
If you have not been before I encourage you to go, especially during the day – a completely different experience to the evening party crowd.

The day was warm but overcast and a slight breeze was welcome relief to the heat.
I was looking for something interesting to photograph but nothing really caught my eye.

The restaurant was at the end of a row of buildings, most of which seemed to be unused and were up for rent.

As I looked past the row of houses, down the hill, I noticed a man, probably in his late 50’s, come out of one of the doors on the row.

Someone appearing surprised me as from the outside the buildings all looked empty.
I could hear other voices coming from the door way and a couple of children sprang out on to the street.

It was a house, a family was living there.

As a tourist area I did not expect people to have homes, especially in the castle.

As the children scampered about the cobbled street the man, broom in hand, walked over to the other side of the street.

Above him were three or four trees and on the floor were scattered leaves, detached from the tree in the breeze.
Not many leaves had fallen but it was clearly enough to warrant getting the broom out.

He started to sweep the leaves.

As I watched I thought about how I would react to a few leaves outside my house.
‘Well, the wind will carry them away.’ or ‘The birds probably need them, you know, to make a nest. Best leave them where they are.’

The man spent a good ten minutes sweeping and gathering the leaves, placing them in a nearby bin.

I was about to go back to my camera, looking for something to photograph, but my eyes were drawn back to the man.

He was back at the same spot, the spot he had just swept and cleared up.
He was stood there, inspecting the area, crouching down to get a closer look.

He stood, picked up the broom and started sweeping again.

I could not work out why he was still sweeping – all the leaves had been cleared up.
I then realised what he was doing, he was clearing up all the grit and dirt from the road and path.

He spent a further five minutes going over this small section of road, outside his house.

He wasn’t doing this small chore for anything other than a pride in how the street looked and wanting to take care of the small stuff.

Once satisfied he beckoned the children over to look at the work he carried out.
They looked unimpressed by the work carried out and hurried away, returning to whatever game they were playing.

The man shook his head and muttered something to himself, equally unimpressed with the kids lukewarm reaction.

He wandered back into the house and closed the door.

I returned back to my cold drink, searching for something to photograph.

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Believe and take action.

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Ian Ruane

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