Has Cheating Become the American Way?

Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs. It seems like every new member of the Obama administration has broken the law. The Bush administration convoluted the truth to commit us to war. The Clinton administration was run like a mafia whorehouse. A Congressman can run a prostitution ring from his Washington home and remain in an influential position of power. Wall Street can defraud the public of trillions of dollars and we just look the other way. Even an Olympic superstar can break our hearts.

What has happened to America? Have we become a nation of cheaters? Everywhere I look, I see people breaking the law with impunity and a clear conscience. “Everybody else is doing it…” we here from the cheaters. As if that makes it okay.

We are acting like teenagers, warping the truth into something we want it to be. Illegal aliens are needed in our society. Pedophiles must be understood, not punished. Drugs should be decriminalized because (name your reason).

I know that some laws are just stupid. Like that 55 MPH speed zone that should be 65 MPH, or having to stop for three full seconds at that stop sign when there is no one around. But things have grown out of whack.

The human genome wires us to conform, to follow leaders and to lead. Most of us have all three traits, mixed into some order of priority. The instinct to follow, this “flocking” behavior, makes us want to be like everyone else. We don’t want to be weird or wear the wrong clothes. There are those of us who buck the big trends, like wearing a nose ring, but this usually puts us into a smaller sub-group, not a solo experience.

As our media bombards us with examples of (previously) aberrant behavior, many in our society have found new groups that make them feel “normal.” We see pro athletes who use steroids or HGH, so kids think it is the way to succeed. We see pop stars doing drugs, so kids think it is cool. We see our national leaders cheat on taxes and their spouses, so we think it is fine for the little guy. We’ve even seen sex become not sex.

When I grew up, we left our house unlocked. Keys were left in the car, sometimes overnight. Young kids played away from home unsupervised. Sure, homes were robbed, cars were stolen, and children abducted. But it wasn’t “normal.” Criminals didn’t see a constant barrage of like-minded criminals being talked about, or even celebrated.

This free flow of information has allowed everyone to break into smaller and smaller sub-groups. It has allowed previously “aberrant” behavior to be considered “normal,” and to become accepted.

Along the way, our morals have begun to bend, our laws have grown more lax, and our society has begun to break at its seams. If this continues for much longer, our society will grow closer and closer to anarchy, were crime goes unpunished, where crime becomes more and more normalized, and deviant behavior becomes the norm. The rights of the few will outweigh the rights of the many, because we all belong to some group of the few.

If we want to stop this gradual slide into the acceptance of cheating, immorality and the systematic trampling of individual rights (in the name of individual rights) we are going to have to begin holding our leaders and role models to higher standards of behavior. Our politicians will have to become good people, not good manipulators of the system. Our athletes will have to realize that the huge money they earn comes at a price. That price is responsibility, not to themselves, but to the children who follow their lead. Wall Street will have to stop rewarding the carnivores and promote the farmers.

If we don’t, I am afraid that the America we used to know, and even the society we know today, will seem like the days of innocence, something to look back on with nostalgia, and not something to emulate. God bless America, and please help us save her.


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