Living with integrity in the midst of dishonesty

Fred Cavaiani

Have you ever been surrounded by people who appear to be dishonest? Can you remember a time when you were disappointed with those above you in life who seemed to have little integrity? Have you ever practiced your profession in the midst of people who acted dishonestly? If you are a lawyer do you remember standing before a judge who just didn’t know how to be an impartial judge? Have you ever had an opposing attorney who used dishonest means to get their client some legal benefits? Everyone experiences bosses, confreres, fellow employees, relatives and friends who seem to act without integrity at times. If you are in politics, dishonesty and attacking others unjustly appears to be part of the profession.
We don’t live in paradise. There is no utopia here and there will never be. Yet to live with integrity and honesty is noble and internally brings a person into an inner freedom and peace. We will all be disappointed by others at times. At the same time, we will all be inspired by others at other times.

The greatest peace in life comes from having personal integrity, which guides us to always be truthful, loving and honest. Every lie we ever tell reduces our ability to experience a good life. Every investment of emotional and psychological energy in condemning and criticizing others creates in us an emotional barrier from experiencing goodness in life. We become so preoccupied in other people’s faults that we minimize what we need to do to live a full life filled with compassion and integrity.

The most honest and loving people in our lives are the people we enjoy thinking about. The condemning, judgmental and dishonest people in our lives are the people we don’t want to associate with that much. We may have to do this but these are the people that don’t inspire us to be better versions of our self.

Lately many people whom I have known for years have died. I remember them with fond affection and respect. These are the people who seemed to have been always caring and compassionate. To be in their presence was to be affirmed and loved. Just this past week, a friend of mine who I have known since I was fourteen years old had some serious medical emergencies and almost died. He is a kind, gentle and peaceful man. I have known him and his wife for many years. To be with them has always been to feel welcomed and respected. People like this are painful to lose when they transition to the next life. I am grateful that he is getting better. This experience has challenged me to look deeper at life. What is really most important? What do I want to leave behind when I transition to the next life?

I think life is meant to be lived in a joyful and peaceful manner. To be joyful and free demands that I live life in a humble manner, loving and listening and learning from everyone. My wife and I traveled to Fulton, Missouri, this past week. Our son and his wife live there. They are both teachers, my son, a college professor and his wonderful wife teaches at a private boarding school. They are both very caring and kind. On the way down there and on the way back I was very careful to smile at everyone at every restaurant, hotel, and gas station. The response I received back was so warm and positive. Everyone I smiled at also smiled back at me. Everyone I greeted returned the greeting. Every door I opened for someone else came back to me in a warm thank you and a positive effort to open the next door for me. There may have been one or two people who didn’t respond that positively but they were the exception. It didn’t stop me a bit or discourage me in any way at all from continuing this journey of friendliness and kindness to all.

Everyone is looking for a kind and honest person.We all want to be with people who have the integrity to be loving and kind toward us. I had such a marvelous time going down to Missouri and also returning home. It was the journey of being with other people in a relaxed, kind and loving manner. To do this I need to remain humble, compassionate and reflective. It is difficult to frown when I am consciously smiling. It is difficult to lack integrity when I am focusing on what is good about life and what is good about others. The biggest investment in life is to invest in love and compassion toward all. It keeps me humble and honest and makes me realize that I need to be quiet, kind and reflective. I need to be open to goodness all around me and learn to listen to the whisperings of an ever present and always loving God. If I stay in my heart and get out of my head this will happen. And it will not make any difference if others don’t share this same philosophy. It will not make any difference if others act in a dishonest manner. The only important thing is to have the integrity to always be honest and humble and bring more love into the world.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@ and his website is