Doing right. What’s your guide?

brown wooden smoking pipe on white surface

“If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying enough.”

How do you feel about that? I know a lot of people who chuckle at that thought and talk about there being truth in it. But I think it is indicative of so much that’s wrong in our world whether it’s sports, business, or any other endeavor.

Is there ever any time that cheating is right? Some might make a case for breaking some unethical law but those cases are far and few. What I am thinking about is our day-to-day world, not the world of, say, an environmental activist working to stop whaling ships.

So what about the law? In most things, there is a legal standard, is that enough? We’ve all seen businesses that do things that we know in our core are wrong but no law has been broken. Think of businesses luring those in need to take high-interest loans which will saddle them with crushing, long-term debt. It may be legal but ethics are definitely in the backseat.

How about sports? There are rules there but breaking them seems to be okay by many. When baseball’s Houston Astros got caught cheating, I heard many a fan say, “everybody does it, they just got caught,” as if everybody doing it is the measure of its acceptability. Besides, they just broke baseball rules, they didn’t rob or commit murder, right?

So, is cheating okay? Is it only cheating if it breaks the law of the land? What is the standard? What can be drawn up to give us guidance?

I have to continually go back to one of the simplest rules of all time, one that is part of just about every religion and culture. DO TO OTHERS WHAT YOU WOULD WANT DONE TO YOU. Isn’t that a handy-enough guide?

And, it has some element of correction involved in it. Since the Astros cheated, that should mean every baseball team has a free pass to cheat on them (they must want to be cheated on, right?). Every customer should have a free pass to cheat on those unethical businesses (they, too, must want it done to them, right?). Karma is a mean task master.

Of course, I am not suggesting that we all go and cheat on those who cheat on us. An eye for an eye is a poor correctional tool, however, I am suggesting that we have a higher standard for doing right than just the laws our governments establish.

Think about your values. Are you only concerned with the law or do you have a higher, more ethical standard? What about your business, team, family? What is your guide for what is right?

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