Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cheater, Cheater

Years of Catholic school is probably the reason I have an extremely overdeveloped sense of fairness and right/wrong - never mind the whole priest molestation stuff. Anyway, I know this about myself -- justice matters a lot to me. I absolutely HATE when people lie, cheat, and/or try to gain an advantage over others through unjust methods. Truthfully, it brings out the worst in me and I totally admit it.

I have always spent an excessive amount of time thinking. Dear Husband teases me about this, and friends are amazed that I drive hundreds of miles -- in silence. Well, it is noisy in my head but I like that -- I think ALL the time. I think about everything, analyze everything, consider the meaning of everything, and so on -- you get the idea.

And so I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about why it bothers me so much when I perceive cheating and/or dishonesty, and what the appropriate course of action is when one believes that cheating has occurred. I have found it best to think carefully before reacting -- I learned this by reacting too many times without thinking, which I do not recommend :)

To me, cheating is any behavior, action, etc. that deliberately seeks to circumvent a rule/norm in order to gain an advantage over others. In other words, cheating seeks to tip the balance of a level playing field, and place one in a better position than others.

It is that whole, "gaining an advantage over others" thing that pushes my big, giant, red, flashing button. For example, when that person passed cars and tried to cut in at the beginning of the line at the George Washington Bridge -- instead of waiting his turn like the rest of us -- I was incensed and truly would have let him smash my car before I would have let him cut in front of me (we were going slow and I have insurance). Is that normal? I don't know -- but it is how I am.

Competition is a way to make ourselves better. It is not really about being superior to others as much as it is being better than we think we can be, and being better than we were. Competition promotes growth and excellence, and therefore we all benefit from competition -- if we think of it as a way to become better.

When competition becomes more about beating others than self-improvement, we risk losing our moral compass. And when competition becomes about being #1 -- well, we risk not only that moral compass but our integrity as well. When winning becomes our goal, it is too easy to justify that any method to achieve the goal is acceptable -- and it isn't.

I (grudgingly) admire people who can feel sorry for cheaters -- yes, I know they are sad, small people who need their achievements for self-worth and blah blah. But really, while I can think that whole line of reasoning, my heart does not agree and is enraged that we are reinforcing cheaters by allowing them to get away with their cheating ways.

Then my head says, "just have faith -- no good comes from cheating and that person will get what s/he deserves." My heart grumbles a bit about this as it *does* make some sense... and then that part of me that will crash before I let someone cut in front of me starts chattering head is a noisy place lately.

And there are multiple levels to this ongoing discussion inside of me -- what to do when one is aware of cheating, how to relate to lying/cheating friends, what it means about me that I am so upset about it, and so on... I have no real answers actually -- just lots of internal conversations.

I have said before -- my inclination when dealing with people who are trying to gain advantage over others is to quickly and aggressively put them in their place. I am not sure I am proud of this quality about myself, but I know it exists -- and self-awareness is a very important means of doing damage control since we cannot manage ourselves if we do not know ourselves.

Because I also recognize that I do not have the corner on truth, and because I know I have a tendency to react strongly in the face of what I perceive as injustice, I am frozen into inactivity (except in my head) by an awareness/perception of cheating that will result in someone having an advantage -- over me. Torn between my natural inclination to go for the throat (so to speak) -- and my relationship with the person -- I am involved in an internal war of principles, values, and so on -- this is why I cannot possibly listen to the radio when driving...

Can one be friends with people whose moral compass consistently points to, "Best for ME" at the expense of others? What is the correct and appropriate response to knowledge of a rule violation, especially if there is every reason to believe no consequences will take place? Why am I so bothered by other people's lack of integrity?? Why can't I just trust Karma (not the cat -- she is not trustworthy and you can ask Chippy about that!)??? Ugh... Self-awareness sucks sometimes...

1 comment:

  1. You know the saying cheaters only hurt themselves it's not true. I like to think of it in student terms, I guess because I'm a student. When I was in paramedic school some students cheated on a test when the teacher left the room... I was not one of them as I would never share information that I knew and worked hard on. I also would never take answers because I'm not trusting enough... how do you know the cheating answers are correct? I did not report it though so I was guilty by association. Well anyways as luck would have it she found out and was deeply disappointed in EVERYONE. We all were punished... but more importantly she explained "you are going to be paramedics... you need to know the answers to those questions and if you don't you could really hurt someone. I need to know if you don't know!!" I have taken that with me everywhere I've gone... cheating doesn't just hurt the person that does it... It affects everyone. If I had a chance again to report cheating I would.