Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Reign of Dishonesty

Written jointly by Roger Froikin and Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks

The Ten Commandments are universally taken as a good list of rules for a fair and moral society.  We all seem to agree that “Thou shall not steal” is a good policy.  We all concur that not murdering is a necessary basic rule of any moral and stable society, that coveting leads to all sorts of problems and so on.

But less specifically stated is that all these rules hinge on honesty and are undermined by dishonesty.  We all hear that “honesty is the best policy” and that dishonesty leads to problems we do not want.  We all want our children to tell us the truth, businesses to treat us honestly and fairly, and friends and neighbours to never cheat us.

Everyone has been guilty of holding back on the truth so as not to hurt the feelings of a relative or friend, one’s wife or husband.  Half-truths to protect feelings are not uncommon.  Lies to protect against evil are justified at times.   The simple fact is whether one is honest or dishonest affects more than that person.  It affects others who depend on that person.
One fact, however, remains clear. Whether someone is honest or dishonest directly or indirectly touches the lives and choices of others.  
Another fact that remains uncontested is that, there are circumstances when honesty needs to be expected from those who affect our daily lives. Their honesty is something that we depend on for our decision-making processes and our choices.  Their honesty, or lack of it, determines what we must do, or not do.  

Honesty has rarely, if ever, been the governing principle on the timeline of history. For one to be honest, one needs to be courageous, be free of agenda and have a strong desire to bring about a change for the better in one’s world. In a way being honest is, to use Gandhi’s words, being the change that one wants to see in the world.
The honesty-dishonesty conundrum begins with childhood.  Children lie to protect themselves when they believe that they have done something wrong or disappointed someone close to them.  We teach them to develop trust and that being honest is best in the long run. 

Later in life, many use dishonesty in order to take advantage of others.  Businessmen who cut corners in order to sell faulty merchandise or who charge high prices in times of tragedy to profit from the hurt of others, come to mind. Politicians are another example of those who sometimes use lies, distraction, or evasion of truth as their compass to attract supporters and voters to gain power or push a policy that they believe might have opposition if people knew the facts.

Dishonesty, unfortunately, has become the rule rather than the exception in today’s world, today, more than ever before.  

Everyday people, sadly enough, also, play the same game in the hope of bringing about a change that will improve their status and advance their own personal agenda, gain friendships and buy love.
What is even more concerning is that we have learned to accept dishonesty and live with it. We may get momentarily upset when witnessing it, mumble our discontent with those that employ it, shake our head in disbelief yet we move on with our daily chores. We have all seen people who would excuse dishonest behavior and wonder why.   Some do wonder about the guy that shrugs off dishonesty by saying “everyone steals” or the politician who wants us to believe him but says “everyone lies”.   And what is worse is when people excuse dishonesty to protect their favorite friend or store or politician or political party,  strangely even when it might be against their own best interests.

Honesty, on the other hand and strangely enough has become a dirty word and is almost akin to a four-letter word.  In some countries today, the honest man is considered “naïve” or a fool.  The guy who shakes hands on a deal without paying a lawyer is called a “sucker”, assuming everyone is going to cheat him.  The honest man is scorned by many.

Likewise, in this Politically Correct world where opinions that do not conform  are censored, those that strive to express their opinions genuinely and sincerely amount to no more than “cyber bullies” and accused of promoting strife, hatred, lack of PC and warding off friendships merely for dissenting from current popular clichés. They are even considered by some, “the enemy.” What follows then is that the “enemy”, the “cyber bully” should be attacked, sanctioned and occasionally even threatened,  no different than the intolerance that led to pogroms against Jews in Europe.

The legitimization of dishonesty is alive and well and continues to pose danger to liberty.

1 comment:

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