by Ch. Maj. Eric Cooter, CAP Group 5 Chaplain/Unit Chaplain
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “Integrity” both as “the quality of being honest and fair,” as well as “the state of being complete or whole.” When most of us think of integrity, the characteristics of honesty and fairness usually come to mind. However, a life of honesty and fairness requires us to be emotionally, physically, as well as spiritually whole. Wholeness means that we are living in a state of “not lacking or leaving out any part.”
Life’s circumstance can often leave us lacking. When we are physically ill or we experience an injury, our entire state of wholeness shifts. Our mental state becomes challenged, we may become despondent, and our spirit focuses on the negative. When our emotional state is challenged because of stress, we often feel that emotion in our guts or for some of us, our immune system becomes compromised and we catch a cold or some other minor illness. When we overlook our spiritual practices, or we fail to care for our spiritual selves, we may experience the emotions of despondency, fear, or a lack of peace.
Alternatively, when we exercise and eat properly, when we take time for meditation, prayer, or other spiritual/religious practices, and when we spend quality time with friends and family, our health tends to improve, we focus more on the positive, and we feel more connected to others and the world around us. An online Mayo Clinic article states, “Taking the path less traveled by exploring your spirituality can lead to a clearer life purpose, better personal relationships and enhanced stress management skills.”(1)
We are a whole person that cannot be divided. We are more than mere mental and physical functions. We are intelligent, emotional, and spiritual beings, who require balance in order to be whole. An aircraft engine requires fuel, air, and spark to run properly, and if any of those things are out of balance, the engine does not run at its optimum level.
Accomplishing our individual mission tasks and working together as a team, to insure we accomplish our team mission requires all of us to function at our optimum level.
Living the core values of CAP can be a challenge for all of us, but achieving our goals, accomplishing the mission, and living a life of “honesty and fairness,” living as a person of integrity requires each of us to be whole. Like packing up your “mission bag” with MRE’s and water purification tablets, or conducting a pre-flight before starting the engine, begin the practice of taking care of yourself and your mission readiness. Eat well, get plenty of rest, have fun and play, spend time with your family and friends, study and work to improve your skills, and take care of your spirit. Pray, meditate, and consider committing to a frequent observance of the religious practices of your faith tradition. Commit to be your whole self, your balanced self, and your best self. Live with integrity!