A Dishonest Society
Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College
A Dishonest Society
It does not seem as if anyone is to be trusted these days. Students, politicians, and Americans in general seem to be more and more dishonest. There is a growing awareness of corrupt business dealings throughout the country. Supervisors are spying on their employees by reading their private email. Neighborhood watch committees are being set up in already seemingly safe neighborhoods.
In grade school we are taught "Honesty is the best policy" and "Cheaters never win and winners never cheat." Even so, somewhere along the way some students learn that it is easy to cheat and lie. Perhaps cheating is easier than studying; it's certainly less time consuming. We also learn of the divine honesty of our forefathers, the men on whom this country was built upon. Stories are taught of George Washington, how he "could not tell a lie" to his father when he allegedly cut down the cherry tree. There is also Abraham Lincoln who earned the name "Honest Abe" due to the consistent honesty shown to his fellow man. We are to use them as prime examples of ideal society members. We are taught to be as honest as possible, not only because it shows we are moral human beings, but also because it shows respect and responsibility towards our fellow human beings.
It is not until later that we learn about the shadiness of politics and that cheaters really do win. It is not until later that we learn Washington's story was just a fabrication. So maybe if cheating and dishonesty worked so well for others it could work for us as well. Perhaps honesty isn't always the best policy. After all, shouldn't the best policy get you what you want? We all know what happened to good ol' Honest Abe.
Parents are the most influential teachers in a child's life; children shadow each function down to the last mannerism. As children we do things we probably should not, like draw on the walls, hide our sibling's favorite toy, or pick the neighbor's flowers. Somewhere, perhaps by hearing our parents tell a white lie to a bill collector on the phone or a parent's broken promise filled with good intentions, children learn to lie. Maybe this works once or twice, long enough for a young mind to continue down this road. Children learn to lie to avoid something they don't want or to get something they do want.
What most children want is to make their parents proud. What most parents want is for their children to succeed in life; hence the pressure to get good grades as a foundation for that successful life. So some children, driven by good intentions, cheat their way through a major test, perhaps, because they just don't feel like putting all that effort into actually studying. Perhaps the pressure to do well is so great that the student does not even want to take the chance at failure, which may even mean a "C+". When it comes down to it the payoff seems worth the risk. Soon enough it becomes a habit and it gets so easy that students even share their cheat sheets with friends. Their parents and teachers are happy with the good grades so it seems everyone has gotten what they wanted.
John Gotti once said, "You only lie if you're scared and I ain't scared of no man." America is a country that gave birth to companies like Enron and Worldcom, where lawyers are paid to find a way to cheat the law -- and to Bill Clinton, who is famous for cheating, and George W. Bush, who mysteriously made it through Yale; let's face it he's not the brightest crayon in the box. I can only imagine what kind of pressure a wealthy politician's son may have to do well in school and follow in his father's footsteps. I am beginning to wonder if this is a society breeding anything but "scared" people.