Whenever you hear the word honour or integrity in the news, it’s nearly always in reference to a group who’s allowed theirs to come under question: politicians on the gravy train; foreign governments rigging votes; bankers taking more than their fair share.… The list goes on.
It seems the word, in its intended use, has come to describe an almost unattainable, near mythical station, paradoxically used only when one falls short of expectation.
On the other hand maybe it’s just that men and women of integrity don’t make it into the news. The more positive, idealistic notion is that people of that calibre simply don’t sell as many papers as the latest story about a failed celebrity, but the realistic voice of concern suggests: there just aren’t that many role models anymore.
Perhaps years of observation have rendered us all cynics. We hope to be proved wrong, but where are such people? People whose morality and sincerity remain unchanged and resolute in the company of rich or poor, who practice what they preach, who give back that extra change, who never cut those corners or manipulate the system. Pillars of society, no, mountains! Unshakeable in their morals, beacons of hope for those around them, personifications of the word integrity.
Hussain was such a man.
Don’t just accept this statement though – there’s no integrity in that. Instead, note how historian Thomas Carlyle describes Hussain as “rigid” in his cause; a cause which celebrated author Charles Dickens describes as “un-worldly” and “selfless”. Dr. K. Sheldrake maintains “there was no glory, power or wealth to be found in the stand of Hussain, only an unflinching sacrifice against the greatest odds”; this was a stand the famous Nobel prize winner Rabinranath Tagore affirms as being one solely to uphold truth and justice.
Hussain surpassed all expectations – he is an example for us all.
He causes us to question ourselves: can we be counted on to stand up for what’s right – not hypothetically but tangibly, in everyday situations? What are we going to do next time we see something clearly wrong happening in front of us? The integrity that coursed through every fibre of Hussain’s being meant he saw no issue in sacrificing everything he had to uphold the values of society. Are we truly men and women of integrity? Jawarhalal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, reminds us:
“Hussain’s sacrifice is for all groups and communities; an example of the path of righteousness.”
With Hussain’s inspiration, let’s begin to walk that path of righteousness and integrity today.