Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Liars and Cheaters, Oh My!

Are we a society of cheaters?
Last week, Cameron van der Burgh admitted to cheating in the 100 yard breaststroke at the Olympics by using an illegal dolphin kick. The south african gold medalist was quick to say that he was not the only one and that it is widely known that if you want to win, you have to cheat. The report came on the heels of a New York Times story about a hospital that was performing unneeded cardiac surgeries to defraud medicare and insurers out of millions of dollars. And today, a report of a young competitor caught cheating at...Scrabble.

As the mother of two daughters, I try to teach my kids to do the right thing.  Honesty is the best policy. Cheaters never prosper. But more and more I see liars and cheaters proliferating in the highest echelon of our society. Our leaders and heroes, caught red handed, issue less than heart felt apologies and act as though their behavior is business as usual.

It begs the question, is our world so complex and competitive that people have to cheat to win? And is winning so important that it's worth compromising your soul? I mean, if the boy came in second at Scrabble, would a room full of puppies die?  And by what stretch of the imagination does a hospital justify risking lives to enhance the bottom line?

I think we often hear about fraud on an individual level, but perhaps cheating has become systemic. Maybe the bar has been raised to a point that no human being can reach it without a little help. But I think the bigger issue is that people still believe the bar is worth reaching.

So, I tell my kids, there is nothing wrong with living a simple life. To be loved and to love yourself, to look yourself in the mirror every morning with a clear conscience, goes a long way toward authentic happiness. And I have to think, if there was someone in the pool swimming against Cameron who did not cheat, that person will have a story to tell to their grandchildren about how they didn't win the medal but earned a more valuable prize--their integrity.


  1. It is really sad that our world has come to this. Children today do think they need to win at everything. We try to teach our kids that it is okay if they dont win at a board game it's not the end of the world. Or if they don't get the prize in the grabber games (which are near impossible to begin with). Life is going to be extremely tough for them if we don't do something about it now.

  2. Bravo, GP. I couldn't agree with you more.

  3. It's interesting that you use a photo of Kristen Stewart to head up this post - caught cheating on R-Patz, she's axed from the sequel to Snow White & The Huntsman...but the director was allowed to continue. Seems a bit "double standards" to me. Some cheats will prosper, but others won't. Either way, it's them who have to live with themselves and the knowledge they won by cheating.

    And that argument of "Oh well everyone does it"...imagine if EVERYONE had done the illegal dolphin kick, where would the competition be?

    1. I'm glad someone caught that, Icy. I chose the picture for that exact reason. You know, when you are in your early twenties it's natural to experiment a bit and make some mistakes. But he has no excuse.

  4. no doubt it's up to the parents to take responsibility of our kids and teach them the correct way of life. It can be done without putting tons of pressure them as well which leads them to temptation of cheating.


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