[February 13, 2019] The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York has an honor code1 that goes back to its founding in 1802. It reads, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.” However today, cheating is not only encouraged, but anyone who doesn’t cheat is considered old-fashioned and obsessive.
“I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.” – Sophocles, Greek tragedy writer
Our modern world is highly secular. The values of old – those values that made humans worthy and good – are fading. Nobody trusts anyone anymore. Some psychologists are saying this leader trend is not a misstep but a feature of our age. Wherever we look, there are lying politicians, crooked bankers, corrupt businessmen, cheating journalists, and a double-dealing media.
The reason we see cheating being encouraged is simple. The premise that we should not cheat is as old as humans have walked the Earth. But now, cheating is tolerated to the point that we accept it as a satisfactory way of carrying out our lives.
Cheating on your spouse is now passé (there are television shows on it). Cheating in school is predictable and rarely punished. Cheating in sports is now part of the game. Professional wrestler, Eddie Guerrero, was honest when he said that if you’re not cheating [in sports], you’re “not trying.”
As our society becomes more complex, cheating will grow to be progressively easier. It will also become harder to stop. As long as our traditional values begin to diminish, cheating will become more accepted and encouraged.
The end product of cheating is the breakdown of trust and confidence in one another. It sabotages trust and weakens the bonds of our human spirit and humanity; without which we perish. Psychologist, Dr. Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto said when discussing cheating that we, as a society, had better watch out because the result will be bad for us all.
Cheating, however, is not the American way. And, it is not the way of any Western society that built on Judeo-Christian values. Our most senior leaders can begin to lead the way by calling it out and explaining why cheating is a failed method of getting what we want in life.