Driving Integrity. Literally.

This morning I used the word “integrity” in reference to driving. Driving with integrity. Admittedly, I kinda plucked the word out of a list I knew would mess with my interlocutor’s mind, but it ended up messing with my mind as well. And, that’s a good thing 🙂

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In life, there are many people who preach about living life with integrity, much less just driving. But what does that even mean, really? For me, and through the various readings/lectures that have shaped my perspective, integrity exists as part of a “trust chain.” Applying this perspective to driving might look something like this:

First, we start by allowing ourselves to accept some set of rules. For example, driving wise, we study the rules of the road, and take a rest certifying that we know and will presumably uphold those rules.

Second, we then allow ourselves to become predictable. In driving, when a light turns red we stop, when the speed limit is 45mph we drive 45mph… that sort of thing.

Third, we demonstrate integrity. This means we stop at red lights and drive the speed limit even when we think there is nobody around to verify it – police don’t have to watch us, because we are predictably allowing these rules and we enforce them ourselves.

Through that chain of events we are able to build trust. In driving, this means our passengers know what to expect. Other people driving know what to expect as well (but this is more a collective expectation as they don’t know us individually…so the best demonstration of trust building would prolly still be through passenger perception)

That’s kinda my view of integrity and how it fits into driving. But how many of us drive like that? I don’t. I speed (generally 5mph as a rule, but sometimes more), I will push the envelop on an amber, I’ve cut people off and driven on the wrong side of the road. And my driving is fairly tame compared to a lot of other folks on the road! I haven’t even touched on the concept of exploitation – people who intentionally prey on the integrity of others!

Obviously then, either folks don’t have integrity, or the definition of integrity has to be broadened through a convenient set of rationalized justifications. I have chosen option B, because I see myself as someone with a fair degree of relative integrity. “Relative integrity” sounds like an oxymoron. Just like “relatively honest” or “relatively perfect.” Oh well, welcome to being human.

When I get 3 red lights in a row, I’ll rationalize running the 4th. When I am on a 8 lane road with a posted speed limit of 25, I will justify it should be 40… when i see the police officer with a radar gun, I will decide 30 sounds better. Each situation is different, and the rationale changes per person. Even those who would be considered guilty of “predatory” exploits have somehow rationalized their behavior.

Nonetheless, I have built trust with many passengers… I somehow drive with “enough” integrity that people are willing to let me drive without saying, “oh no! I am not going if HE is driving.”

I bet it is funnerer. Two people who drive about the same might actually build different levels of passenger trust based on personality characteristics that have nothing to do with driving. Put that in your frosty machine and blend it!!

What is the difference then between “enough” integrity, “not enough” integrity, and should a person even bother? It all becomes richly complex, don’t it? That’s why this phrase messed with my mind….I mean, I was hoping to draw a conclusion here, but rushing to a conclusion is like declaring “ready! fire! aim!”

The conclusion for now? “Driving with integrity” is, to my surprise, an interesting and complex topic. Good times!

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