Thursday, March 08, 2007

Has Lying and Cheating Become the Norm?

I was looking at Yahoo Answers, a website where anyone can ask and answer a posted question. Many students are posing their homework in search of an easy answer they can turn in as their own work. If you think I'm kidding, there is actually a category called, "homework help." Now I guess that most students figure that Yahoo Answers sure beats having to go to the library or researching the question. But, how many of them think that this is a form of cheating? Do they tell the teacher that they got the answer off that site? The sad fact is that many of the people answering have little or no knowledge about the subject. Heck, they could even using an answer from someone the same age or younger, than the pupil.

I realize that plagiarism has been around forever, which doesn't make it right. But it's just the tip of the issue. Later in life, will these same young adults lie about what or who they are, on a job application? Will they lie to their spouses about where they are at any given time? How will they know the right thing to do if society looks the other way? We tend to justify the lie. When we find little Johnny lying, we make up a slew of excuses for his behavior. He was stressed, under pressure, fearing failure, a product of divorced parents, or just going through puberty. Poor Johnny, he's simply a victim.

A decade later, when he robs a store or shoplifts, he is again a victim of social ills. He lost his job, had to feed his family, or has a bipolar disorder. Poor Johnny. So I have to ask you; when is cheating or lying a sin? We accept the fact that car salesman and politicians make false claims or promises they can't back up. Rebates never arrive as stated. Service people don't arrive on time. We get bad advice from consultants and so-called experts. Store clerks steer us in the wrong direction. Even the IRS people give out the wrong answer over half the time, So, what should we believe about the human condition?

I am somewhat an optimist and hope that the vast majority will do the right thing. In studies where a wallet is dropped on a crowded street, many people will look for the owner. But not all. If you receive too much change back from a clerk, will you point out the mistake and return the correct amount? Are you a good role model for your kids? This not to say that you alone are the mentor. Unfortunately, TV has plenty of shows where cheating is funny. Most recent sit-coms have the husband lying to the wife almost every episode. Then he gets caught, has to make up another lie to cover the first one and hilarity ensues. With this type of situation as our guide, isn't it obvious what we are up against?

Divorce is rampant and mostly due to cheating spouses. Celebrities do it so it must be okay. Having 3 or 4 marriages is no longer a stigma. Priests are having sex with boys and covering it up. Our higher-ranking politicians are getting indicted for lies and deceit. Doctors and teachers are not living up to our expectations. So, where are the formally highly regarded role models? Where do we turn?

Look in the mirror. That's the only one you can trust anymore. It begins right there. Don't worry about the rest of the world. Commit to practicing good morals and ethics in you own life. If you can live a life that is straightforward and above board, then you have done your small part to break the cycle. Your friends and family will benefit from your example and your children will carry forward that legacy, without even knowing it. Ultimately, you are the only one you have to answer to, so be trustworthy and honest. And that deserves a big, Yahoo!

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