A couple people I don’t know at my school cheated on a test and now they’re busted. Word spread like wildfire mostly due to the high profile nature of the students and stupidity of the act (writing answers on arms and legs). People talked about the appropriate disciplinary action that should be taken in light of the fact that "everyone cheats." What?! I haven’t, and won’t. I think I’m in the majority but it’s shocking how many people openly admit to doing all sorts of dishonest things just to get the grade.
Integrity is a big deal in education but probably the hardest to talk about. A few years ago we had an "honor committee" and it was a complete joke. It’s very tough to talk about morals and values and integrity and honesty and what all those big words mean.
About a year ago I got into a sticky situation involving integrity but in my business. I had stumbled across something that, if I exploited it, could have easily done amazing things for my company. My "stumbling" was a little bit stumbling, a little bit curiosity, and a little bit technical savvy. In the ensuing weeks I had a big internal battle whether I should act on my findings or leave it. My chief advisor told me "Ben, you can rationalize it any way you want. But you know, and I know, that this should go no further. If you acted on it, it would be wrong. There’s no other way to put it." Looking back, despite the "What ifs…" I’m glad I made the right ethical decision.
As always, I turned and continue to turn to books to help me understand these thick issues. I reccomend Stephen Carter’s Integrity for a very thorough and well-written look at integrity that tries to answer this big question: Why do we care more about winning than playing by the rules?