Once upon a time, only a few years ago, I was a marginally respected member of the so-called paranormal community. People came to my book signings and waited patiently for me to write something personal and witty on the title page. I made a few dozen radio appearances and gave several lectures. People seemed to like my writing style, and I felt encouraged in my chosen direction. I was even asked to make an appearance on a national TV program once, which I turned down. I thought my integrity would come into question if I did the show, and no amount of fickle fame is worth one’s good reputation in this field.
Then, life happened. Things changed when almost out of nowhere, family matters became my main concern. They replaced the daily writing regimen, relentless hours of experimentation, late night radio interviews, and book signings. Still, people encouraged me to press on anyway and “bang out” a third book. Tempted is a better word, but I wouldn’t give in, because if I couldn’t do it right, I wouldn’t do it at all. Integrity had to be considered.
Most of us have our own very personal definition of integrity, and I would guess there are as many of those as there are people. Each one of us takes a stand on some kind of perceived principle and draws a line in the sand we refuse to cross. Doing so would be perilous to our self-respect, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, says, or does – we’re prepared and willing to stand valiantly and victoriously tall in our principle. After all, there is honor among thieves, people true to a hopeless cause, and religious martyrs. We’ve all heard “just the facts, ma’am,” and “do unto others,” and the unflinching cries of “never compromise” that all represent someone’s notion of integrity.
Personal integrity is often complicated by specific loyalties, one’s individual sense of responsibility, and large amounts of very intimate distinctions. No one appreciates having their integrity brought into question. You can make a pirate walk the plank without a whimper for almost any reason, but question his adherence to the pirate’s code and you’ve got an angry brigand on your hands. I’ve had my paranormal ethic questioned now and then, and you better believe my defense came fast and furious. After all, we spend the better part of a lifetime deciding where to draw those lines in the sand – it’s not likely we’ll allow others to question our sincerity so easily.
Unfortunately, humans just don’t often seem to understand that someone’s self-worth and decency is tied up in their concept of integrity. We’re convinced of our own resolve, but someone else’s? Not so much. I’ve run across a great many paranormal folks with whom I do not agree. I think their premises are based on faulty knowledge, their evidence is weak and suspect, and the conclusions they draw are suspiciously convenient. I’ve had those same things said of me – the only difference being that we each recognized our own integrity, while everyone else’s was questionable at best.
So, it seems the time has come to stop the nonsense. Thank God we’re all so different. It’s truly a blessing to be able to believe in the veracity of others; to not question their virtue simply because it differs from our own. There is not one commonly acceptable set of truths in the paranormal, so with such diversity must surely come an increased opportunity to learn. We should be taking advantage of that, not looking for the “gotcha” moment or laying ready to pounce at the first sign of deviation.
Our paranormal integrity should probably be simple and direct – honesty, and when called for, a willingness to be wrong. Maybe then we can get off each other’s backs and move this field forward to the place of reverence and dignity it deserves. Perhaps this current “paranormal craze” can finally move toward an enduring acceptability and be allowed to grow legitimately. There have always been respected researchers, you know, but with so many new participants, just imagine how much more we could accomplish together. Seems like a waste otherwise, and I think the question of integrity will probably take care of itself.
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.