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Lincoln's Integrity, Our Integrity

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Imagine being Lincoln. There's a lot of power in coolly walking up to a recognized political adversary and being genuinely friendly. Being negative, in contrast, is the path of least resistance, the approach that triggers opposition. (Read Sun Tzu's The Art of War on the importance of "knowing yourself" and winning without fighting.)

Of course, Lincoln was also ruthless in his pursuit of victory. Yet that didn't tarnish his integrity. In fact, integrity is a quality that helps us to ensure success and victory. With integrity, we have the courage to be true to our beliefs. Integrity won't tolerate moral failure. That means we avoid being apathetic, passive, or emotionally entangled in the victim mentality. We avoid those psychological pitfalls of inner passivity--willful ignorance, cognitive dissonance, omission bias, and other methods of sidestepping issues and reality.

Integrity enables us to be powerful. We need the power not just to resist bad things but to reform bad things. Yet weak people often associate power with being negative. They can't feel power unless they're angry or condemning of others or feeling cynical. If we're too negative, malice will override our integrity, and we'll be stuck in inaction, inertia, and the deadlocked status quo.

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Peter Michaelson is an author, blogger, and psychotherapist in Plymouth, MI. He believes that better understanding of depth psychology reduces the fear, passivity, and denial of citizens, making us more capable of maintaining and growing our (more...)
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