Facing our integrity means we continually assess who we are. When we come up short then we must take corrective action to improve ourselves while simultaneously reaching out to others we may have harmed. Denzel Washington’s 2012 movie, Flight, does a terrific job illustrating this integrity challenge. (No spoiler alerts here—I promise I will not spill any beans.)
Washington plays a pilot flying a multipropeller aircraft carrying more than 100 passengers and crew. He is obviously very talented in his practical aviation skills. Early in the flick, his aircraft encounters a combination of bad weather and unforeseen catastrophic mechanical failures that force him to crash land the plane. By the way, this lengthy sequence covering the catastrophic failures and the pilot’s techniques for crash landing the plane is technically and aesthetically one of the very best I have ever seen on film. Aviation buffs will especially love it.
Thanks to Washington’s efforts, almost all passengers and crew survive. Unfortunately, for Washington, his postcrash blood tests reveal drug and alcohol impairment. What’s a pilot to do?
The balance of the movie shows Washington and others struggling with that very decision. He has all kinds of personal and professional reasons why he wants to beat this rap. On the other hand, this sticky thing called the truth never changes—that is why it is the truth.
I am not sharing Washington’s ultimate decisions because I want you to enjoy the suspense. I highly recommend the movie because it forces you to take a walk down Integrity Lane as you think about yourself. In the end, independent of any drug and alcohol factors, some universal and powerful integrity lessons emerge from which we can all benefit.
Regardless of what you or I might desire, and regardless of our motives, those dynamics do not change the truth. That is the basis of integrity. Integrity intrinsically recognizes truth. For you and me as humans, we might not respond so automatically, and therein lies the challenge.