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Integrity Over Self-Preservation: Fictional and Real-Life Examples

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Doing what is right while knowing the potential personal consequences of doing so is placing integrity over self-preservation.

Inspiring movie characters are those who place integrity over self-preservation. They also tend to be the movies' heroes.

Heroes are not people with problems who blame and act out their frustration on others.

Heroes are people with problems who 1) take responsibility for the choices they make and the situations they find themselves in, 2) hold themselves accountable regardless of the consequences, and 3) problem solve rather than blame others or themselves.

Heroes remain emotionally and behaviorally consistent – regardless of circumstances. Placing integrity over self-preservation makes these characters appealing and inspiring.

Here are some examples of movie characters who, either throughout the movie or at a turning point, place integrity over self-preservation:

-Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond)

-Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink)

-Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz)

-Sara Crewe (Shirley Temple in A Little Princess)

-Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence in Joy)

-William "Whip" Whitaker, Sr. (Denzel Washington in Flight)

-Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney in Angels With Dirty Faces)

Real-life heroes that come to mind are:

-Malala Yousafzai (human rights advocate and Nobel Prize laureate)

-Meghan Vogel (stopped to help fallen runner in Ohio State meet)

-Chelsea "Sully" Sullenberger (executed emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549)

-Jamie Foxx (pulled a victim from a burning car on 01/18/16)


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