I am writing this blog on the day of love, Valentine’s Day.  It gives me peace as I feel that there is no love of anything or anybody without having integrity.  Integrity is the primary virtue that allows us to express ourselves sincerely and openly without a deceptive ulterior motive. It defines character!

We are being inundated with political caucuses and debates.  You would have to be living under a rock if you’ve not experienced the deluge of political verbosity that permeates every sector of the media.  While listening to some of the heated banter taking place, I find myself struggling to identify which candidates truly have integrity as it is defined:

Integrity – Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

The core of integrity is truthfulness, with all people, in every situation.  Truthfulness is the foundation quality of the trust necessary for ultimate success.  So, in this crazy political battle for presidency, can you name one man or woman you sincerely trust to lead our country?

Here is a list of four integrity traits that can serve as a barometer:

  1. Conscience – People with integrity are principled individuals; they work hard and can be depended upon for every responsibility that is given to them.  They are concerned not only of themselves, but also of other people’s welfare.
  1. Honesty – Honest people are always seeking the truth; it is a feature of one’s moral character wherein each decision, thought, and action is grounded on what is perceived to be good and true.
  1. Compassion and Empathy – People with integrity genuinely care for others, because it is what their heart dictates.  Empathy is having the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, and a person with integrity is always someone who seeks to understand what others feel and think first before passing judgment or making choices.
  2.  Equality – These people are fair and just in their dealings.  They give equal treatment and opportunities to everyone and do not make biased decisions.

Over the past couple of months, I have come to truly appreciate these integrity traits in a particular professional sector – that of teaching research physicians.  Thirty years ago I was under the care of some Baylor physicians in Houston, and I came to realize they were a unique breed.  They possessed these traits.  I’m now recognizing it again in physicians associated with UTHSCSA and other medical schools.  They think through their hearts and with their minds.  I applaud these physicians, who perform their life purpose with honesty, compassion and empathy, doing so without making judgments.

There are several doctors whom I could feature, but I’ve elected to write about calhoonone I’ve known for several years and with whom I sit on the University Health System Foundation Board.  Let me introduce you to Dr. John Calhoon, Professor and Chair, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UT Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center.  Dr. Calhoon’s mentor was my friend, the late Dr. Kent Trinkle of UTHSCSA who performed the first-ever heart-lung transplant.  John learned much from Kent.  He had this to say about Dr. Trinkle upon his demise:  “He was a doctor who would try just about anything to help his patients.  He was blind to race, social status, or financial ability.”  The exact same thing can be said about John Calhoon.  His passion for his work is evident in all he does and says.  It’s apparent at Foundation Board meetings and when he was the speaker at a Healthcare Think Tank meeting.  In 2010 he was named Founding Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery.  In 2015 he was formally announced as Director of the UTHSCSA Heart and Vascular Institute, with its vision being:  “Our team will serve patients of our region and beyond evidence-based heart and vascular care of high value.”  Dr. John Calhoon truly is a man of integrity.

facelessJane Doe’s month three report – After a humiliating day in court because of an old DWI, I am trying to stop beating myself up.  Things went better than expected, but nonetheless, humiliating.  I keep asking myself “how did I get here?”  I certainly don’t have the answer but I do know that asking for help when you are feeling hopeless is the only answer.  Another hard month but I’ve survived and feel better than ever.  I have been amazed at how many people support me and understand once I have told them of my situation.  I know now that there is nothing I can’t withstand because of the people I have around me.  It’s too bad it had to go this far to realize that.