Cheating.

I was thinking about cheating on my wife today.  In fact, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

We play our own revved up version of Bananagrams.  When I’m not feeling great, it helps if I do something I have to concentrate on.  The way we play BG is a lot like work.  You have to concentrate on it.  The truth is, we’re both getting pretty sick of the game, but we haven’t found a good alternative.   And whether I love the game or not, it’s addictive.

We’re usually pretty evenly matched, but she’s been on a tear lately, winning 12 of our last 21 games.  She’s a lot busier than I am these days, of course, so she gets pulled away a lot—phone calls, medicines and foods for me, etc.  When she takes a break, I’m not supposed to continue to play, but it’s hard not to at least consider possibilities when the board’s right in front of me.  So I get a little sloppy sometimes and do kinda think about some possibilities.  (And still she wins…)

So I’m kinda cheating a little.  (Cheating Lite.)  But I hate myself for doing it, and I can’t wait to confess.  She’s barely back in her seat and I’m apologizing for my Lance Armstrong ways.  I am getting better; now I always keep some reading materials close at hand so when there’s an interruption I can put a book or magazine or iPad between the game and me.

I’m pretty competitive in some areas, and this turns out to be one of those areas.  It would be easy to really dial up my attention to the game when she’s not there.  I bet I could figure out some damn good ways to pile up some points.  I understand the temptation.  I feel it.

But cheating is corruption and corruption is the world’s biggest problem.  My college has always taken a lot of pride in its honor code.  We do not lie, cheat or steal.  That’s always seemed kind of obvious to me.  We also don’t kill or drown people’s puppies or eat yellow snow.

The time I spend with my granddaughter and her friends remind me that kids will lie, cheat and steal.  But by the time they’re nine or ten, they’re supposed to know better.

But there clearly aren’t many role models for them.  Athletes?  Marion Jones?  A-Rod?  Bill Belichick was fined the first time he was caught with an elaborate set up to steal the other team’s plays.  Shouldn’t he have been fired the second time?

We’ve created a system in which politicians can’t win elections unless they lie.  They’ll tell us just about anything to win.  The only defense for the “good” politicians is that they don’t lie as much as Lyndon Johnson or Dick Nixon did.  That’s not a very high bar.  Politifacts, the journalists who nail down the facts in what politicians say, routinely charge them with lying, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference to anyone.  The liars still win.

We allow advertisers way too much room for “puffery,” but as least we demand some literal version of the truth in their messages.  Shouldn’t we be as demanding of our leaders as we are of our detergent manufacturers?

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