Integrity and moral courage is something we discuss in the textbooks and seek to realize in our lives when handling sensitive issues. Unfortunately, its very existence is defined against the backdrop of difficult discussions that few else would have the courage to undertake. Whether discussing corporations or governments, creating environments that protect those who engage in helpful actions for the betterment of society is important for building a nation bent on improvement.
People with integrity understand the difference between right and wrong before they can think about mustering the courage to tackle major ethical dilemmas. It is the internal code built upon ingrained values that makes it possible for a person to discriminate between those actions that are moral and those that are immoral. If one doesn’t understand the difference there is no moral dilemma for them to deal with.
Knowing that there is a moral issue at hand is based on the way the person interprets information and maintains their integrity. Moral principles are important for the understanding of information and the potential hazards associated with unethical activities. It is absolutely necessary for building stronger societies to expose and tackle problems.
In any situation where unethical or illegal activity is discovered and one must choose one path over another there is going to be stress. Stress comes from the processing of information and understanding the consequences of certain irreversible actions. Any step that changes a person’s course of history is of grave concern.
If one makes a decision to protect the greater good of society and one’s integrity over the needs of job security and personal gain is made, the consequences can be dire. Organizations don’t often assume liability for illegal activities and generally seek to minimize damage, skirt the spirit of laws, and use their powerful connections to influence outcomes of cases.
Taking action can be a life altering event as each side seeks to minimize damage and find the faults of others to mitigate responsibility. Moral courage occurs when one acts with integrity and is willing to accept the consequences of protecting the company, its products, and their own personal integrity; sometimes from themselves.
An open and progressive environment will determine whether or not this moral courage can be realized in any particular entity. The right environment encourages open lines of communication through protections, investigations, correcting misjudgments, and listening to issues before reacting. Blowing the whistle is not an easy process and relies on more than simple belief systems to realize and act. Environments that do not react appropriately will find themselves with less integrity as new expectations become culturally engrained.