Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is it ever OK to cheat?

With the exception of the scripture involved, this is the essay I wrote for my college entrance exam. Any comments you have will be much appreciated:

 Exodus 20:13                   Thou shalt not kill

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ....

Society has changed much in my forty nine years. It used to be that honesty and dedication were qualities to be admired. Government, businesses, churches, entertainment, and education all tried to build these qualities into our young people. Now, it seems that "Do the right thing" has been replaced with, "The ends justify the means." But, is cheating ever justifiable?

   The sports world, of late, is riddled with it. Whether it's individuals using Performance enhancing drugs (PED's), or teams cheating with video tape (remember "Spygate" from the 2006-2007 NFL season?), the modern sports cast's are seemingly incomplete without a scandal.

   Most of the checkout stand headlines (and entertainment shows) are about the latest scandals of music and TV/movie stars sleeping around. I remember when Lionel Richie, the great love song singer/songwriter, was caught cheating on his wife in 1988. He lost millions of fans. The media blistered him for his infidelity. His career never really recovered. If that had been today? They probably would have patted him on the back and given him a reality TV show about "cheating singers."

   What of the political scandals that are talked about endlessly by the pundits on both sides of the aisle? Are they brought out from genuine outrage? Or, in the interest of trying to defeat opponents in an election? How has the cheating on either side of the aisle truly helped our country.

   What about less public cheating?

   How about two companies competing for a defense contract? One stands on it's record of quality and honesty while the other wines and dines the politicians on the committee that makes the decision. Who do you think gets the contract? What if the winner's product is not only inferior, but the design flaws will cost the lives of soldiers? This will effect our national security. What about the employees of the losing company who struggle to make ends meet because there's no raise- because they didn't "play the game?" Is cheating still OK?

   Consider the college student who pays others to do his work for him and spends his time partying. Say he graduates with an MBA and a fortune 500 company hires him to help manage their expanding overseas business. Because he cheated, he's neither qualified nor able to perform the job he was hired to do. The company loses millions. Many families suffer because of this loss. Was his cheating still worth it?

How about on more personal levels?

   Consider the soldier who is deployed for six months and returns to discover his wife is pregnant by another man. Or, how about the spouse who's longed for the return of their soldier who discovers they've been given an STD- by their spouse? How does this effect their children?

   What about the student athlete who is "helped" to graduate by their school- by fraudulent means? Does it truly matter how many games were won by the student's play if he can't read and write? And if he is injured along the way, as so often happens, and he's unable to become a pro, what then? The schools (High School and College) got their wins. But, the left behind athlete is stuck flipping burgers because he can't walk and can't function above the eighth grade level. Was there any real benefit gained from the cheating?

   Then there's the local mayor who owns an ice cream parlor. Because he's "connected," he's able to use his clout to prevent a competitor from opening up nearby. The consumers lose because they have less choice. The workers lose because there are less jobs to choose from. But, the mayor kept his local monopoly. Is this right?

   There are many scenarios we could go through, but you get the point. Cheating, on any level, is never justified. It always does much more harm than good.

   What we, as a society, must do is return to the principles that helped to found, shape, grow, and protect this country: Truth, Honor, Dedication, Honesty, Personal accountability, and elbow grease. Government programs and business initiatives will fail without truth and honesty. All the educational ideas in the world won't help without honor, dedication, and personal accountability. Nothing will work without elbow grease.

   Cheating destroys families. Cheating hurts businesses. Cheating cheapens and weakens our society. There is no excuse for cheating- ever.