Friday, January 4, 2013

The "I" Word, Or: Where All the Effs and Ns Intersect

An old post re-posted for your growing insight:,

Integration. Now, there is an interesting word.

Because we too often limit ourselves, the sense of "integration" that immediately springs to the 21st century mind is the one related to forced busing and a small black girl in a gingham dress with ribbons tied to the ends of braided pigtails clutching a belted book bag as she is escorted by a cadre of uniformed, armed agents through lines of fat and viperous white, middle-aged men spitting filth and lougies at and on her. And if that's where our association lies with that word, it's a damned fine place to go for meaning.


But consider, please: "integration" and "integrity" share the same root, and their relationship goes deeper than that. Integrity is, after all, the state that is achieved when and only when an individual has fully integrated all the values regarded by the larger community as being of the highest worth. It is not an easy state to achieve, nor it is an easy one to maintain. But it is the ideal within each and every society; it is the means by which we recognize and applaud heroism within the community.


Different communities, of course, have different value-sets. My brother's biker club recognizes its heroes according to different standards than my mother's writers' group does. But those little communities are enfolded together within larger ones, and taking a god's view might give them the appearance of a mass of freshly-laid frog eggs or a zygote in hyper split-and-replicate mode or a Venn diagram on crack. You get the idea. There is a set of shared values recognized by the whole, regardless of the deviations that reveal themselves when individual groups meet on Saturdays at the library for poetry readings or at the clubhouse for cheers and beers.

It has been through our struggles across millenia with the "eff" words (fate, fortune, faith, free will and that fifth one, freedom) and the degree to which we are individually and communally empowered to wield them that we have spiraled onward toward the "N" word--through and around and leaping over the [faux] "n" word--and the path only tends upward because we manage to imbue ourselves, baptize ourselves, slake ourselves with integrity.

Integration. Need some? It's yours for the taking.

2 comments:

Mrs. C said...

*le sigh* It too often SHATTERS me to go back and re-read the comments posted by the previous class when I re-post a post that speaks to the general curriculum, and this round has been particularly dicey for me. Class of 2013, youse ROCKED discussion on this post, and obliterating your insights is the toughest thing I have had do do in years. Literally. I toyed with the idea of leaving up the probing questions I had asked in response to 10 of you, as they really help to focus thinking...but, alas, you 2014ers will just have to bring git on your own behalf. Ready...Steady...GO!

Mrs. C said...

...and I did it early as applies to the class of 2014. Your insights are drifting away into the ether at 10:21 a.m., March 5, 2014. Farewell; fare well, indeed.