[November 20, 2020] Several years ago, I wrote about core American values to set a baseline for my leadership blog (see links here, here, and here). Core values say a lot about who we are and where we are going. This is why I spend so much of my time today with our military veterans; they understand what America is about, and I love them.
Values are emphasized heavily in the U.S. military. Some stand out more than others, like honesty and integrity. Dishonesty, in all its forms, destroys trust and is not tolerated in our military. All social institutions are built upon the principle that trust is present; else, nothing can exist. That is why Americans hate cheating.
“I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.” – Sophocles, ancient Greek tragedians
When I was a buck Sergeant (yep, that was a long time ago), a small group of us NCOs played poker in our barracks. Simon, a young man from southern Louisiana and a Cajun, was one of my buddies from Basic Training days. Simon had a habit of cheating. We warned him. Partway through the game, we jumped him, tied him to a bunk bed, placed him and the bunk out in the middle of the Brigade parade field, and left him there to be discovered the following morning. Oh, he was pissed.
Over 100 years ago, in professional baseball, two teams went head-to-head for the world championship; the Chicago White Sox against the Cincinnati Reds. Eight members of the White Sox team were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate. Known as the Black Sox Scandal, it was the “greatest scandal in American sports history,” destroying millions of dedicated fans’ trust.
Americans hate cheating. We despise those who cheat, lie, and steal. Those traits are abhorred, and rightly so. My friend Simon could not understand that cheating in a simple card game made us angry at him; we could not trust such a soldier on the battlefield when our lives were on the line. The Black Sox scandal was a significant blow to the fundamental underpinnings of how baseball is conducted.
It should come as no surprise that cheating is hated in all corners of the world.