The Journey of Integrity, developed by Nancer Ballard in 2019, is a post-mythic narrative pattern or journey arc that focuses on human experience and the embodiment of human possibility. Unlike mythic tales, the protagonist and story teller in the Journey of Integrity never forget that the protagonist is a human being, who–like the listener or reader– suffers and tires, and can feel humiliated or elated, relieved or betrayed. In the Journey of Integrity, it is the protagonist’s human-ness that gives the story meaning and power. In the moment of speaking out or taking action, a palpably human protagonist enacts our best values regardless of the personal consequences, and, by doing so, affirms our sense of positive possibility for humanity.
Stage One: The protagonist sets out on their own journey, goal or path. The protagonist and their dreams, aspirations and the path that they believe they are is identified.
Stage Two: A concerning situation presents itself as a background event. The protagonist learns about a concerning situation. The situation may have nothing directly to do with the protagonist’s goals or or her/him or those close to her/him.
Stage Three: The protagonist continues on their path as they observe or become increasingly aware of the unfolding of a concerning situation.
Stage Four: The Protagonist grows concerned about the unfolding situation. The unfolding situation often presents an interruption to the protagonist’s intended journey, goals or plans. The protagonist weighs competing feelings, priorities, and values.
Stage Five: The protagonist is convinced someone needs to take action.
Stage Six: Others may try to dissuade protagonist from taking action. Protagonist grapples with how to act given the limits of human control.
Stage Seven: The Protagonist decides they must act or speak out regardless of the consequences.
Stage Eight: Action is taken. In the moment that action is taken, the protagonist’s self and values are one.
Stage Nine: The chips fall where they may. The result is important to the story but is not the measure of the protagonist’s worth.
Stage Ten: The protagonist continues life in the ordinary world. The world may or may not be changed. The protagonist understands that the power of their action lies in it being available to an ordinary human being rather than associated with a god-like being. The protagonist may be declared a hero or heroine but this is not the protagonist’s destination.
Stage 11—Those who witness the moment of integrity reflect on the nature of the world (or their new perspective it) in light of others’ reactions to the action. Regardless of the world’s response, the protagonist’s act stands apart from public reaction as an act that affirms humanity’s capacity for good.