Integrity doesn’t mean the absence of paradox, contradiction, discrepancy. Saint is irrevocably wed to Shadow. We are of two, or more, minds about a lot of things, and have to draw the circle wide enough to make room for all of us. There are contraries within, and everyone is welcome to the table. How we manage the conflicting realities is the key. How we work out who does what when determines the smoothness with which our life is lived.
Pretending that we are all goodness and light, and have no truck with darkness, is one thing. Pretending that we are not pretending is quite another. But, why pretend at all? Who could stand our rawness? How would we ever get by in the world being real? The fabric of society is woven with the threads of pretense. We play our roles, act our part, say our lines for the sake of maintaining appearances and keeping the wheels of social intercourse well-oiled and smoothly running, while who we also are is kept on a short leash and told to behave or else. Or else there is chaos and madness and blood everywhere.
We cannot live together as those who just stepped out of the caves and create civilization. The civilized world is a world of pretense and posturing, sham and façade. We maintain order by observing the rules of decorum and being polite. Integrity is recognizing the need for deception and living with a foot in two, or more, worlds. Charles Kuralt was Mr. America while having a long-standing affair. Alan Watts was a bodhisattva and an alcoholic. There is more to us all than meets the eye. And, we have to understand that about each other and allow it to be. And, we have to manage our “other side (sides)” well in order to prevent it (them) from being acted out in ways that do harm and cause damage.
It is important that we act as though we care about one another even when we don’t care at all—that we treat one another lovingly when we don’t feel the least bit loving. If we acted like we felt like acting, civilization would collapse and we would be back in the caves. If you think your true self would be happy with that turn of events, take it into the woods and spend a week there with it being totally real. See how it likes completely transparent reality. And, let it choose between that world or the civilized world of social deception. I’m betting we’ll see you in a week. Or less.