posted 05-10-2002 05:19 PM PT (US)
[I like to use this forum to mirro posts whenever someone tells me that I'm arrogant, judgmental, or other similar comments. This is the most recent episode, in which someone on another message board asked how often people lie.]
My first post:
I have never told a lie that didn't eventually haunt me or hurt me.
This thing about telling lies in the workplace totally casts a shadow over my consciousness. The people with whom you are exchanging money are the people with whom you should strive to be the most honest and the most accurate with at all times. Honesty in business relationships (all business relationships: boss-employee, employee-employee, manager-employee, employee-customer, etc.) is the most important of all situations. Saying, "I lie at work to cover my ass," is the same as saying, "It's okay to lie, just as long as it is to make sure that people keep paying me." That's sick. People like this are what is wrong with the world.
"Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud - that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee - that you do not care to live as a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling - that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others."
--Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
ps: "Everybody does it" is not, nor has it ever been, a good excuse for anything.
My second post, together with the response that prompted this:
Ouroboros, I've never come across anyone quite as judgemental as you before. Not everything in life is black and white, and not everyone can afford to take the high moral ground.
With regard to the "judgmental" comment: Thank you. That's a compliment. However, I could probably be a bit less pointed in how I express myself.
With regard to the "can't afford to take the moral high ground" comment, that really highlights the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, and the catch phrase for distinguishing the two is:
"It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."
You can see this sort of thing in politics. All legitimate rights are political rights; no legitimate right is ever economic - and every economic "right" that is ever given in society violates human rights (political). "How you play the game" is whether or not you lie, cheat, or steal, or whether you choose fair play in an effort to achieve economic gains - it's whether or not you violate the human political rights of others; examples of economic gains - winning or losing - are, say, having something to eat, having money for medical care, having a roof over your head, etc.
Now the bad guys, the evil ones, the people that - in a moral and just society - we build prisons for, think that what matters is whether you have food in your mouth and a roof over your head - nevermind how you came to acquire these goods which were created, bought, and paid for by the efforts of other men (these bad guys are called "socialists", by the way, if you're still learning politics and economics). The good guys, on the other hand, know that there is no level of economic destitution that can be reached in which it would create circumstances in which it's OK to violate the rights of others for one's own economic gains.
And, see, it's only when times are hard and when push is coming to shove that you can really see the true character of a man (using that term to reference both sexes). Anyone can tell the truth, pay full agreed price, an refrain from cheating when times are good. But when times are hard, that's when you can see the true character of a man come out, you can see how noble and virtuous some people can be and you can see how low and despicable some other people are truly capable of sinking.
I'm not the least bit religious - I engage in absolutely no faith whatsoever: I either know something, or I don't - simple as that. But, I hope there is a h*ll in an afterlife for the people of poor moral character that I've mentioned above. But, at least some gratification may be taken in knowing that people who "can't [won't] afford to take the moral high ground" have to deal with the shame, every day, of looking themselves in the mirror, knowing that they've lied to, cheated, or otherwise hurt someone else today, and that they had to cheat and victimize innocent other parties in order to survive. I don't envy that - I'd prefer to play fair and lose.
Well, at least I think I would. But, I live in the United States where even the most destitute bag lady living under a viaduct is colossally rich by the standards of much of the world - so I don't expect to ever be put to the test.
There's another half of this equation, though:
Failing to violate the rights of other people doesn't make a person good - it just prevents them from being bad. Being generous to other people, particularly those who need helping hand, who need emotional support, who need economic support for food, medical attention, clothing, and housing, is what makes a person good. But not if you steal from others (taxes) to do this - you've got to use your own money. And putting more into your job than you'll ever get out in terms of pay is another way.
And in your heart, you know I'm right.