Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why do people cheat?

Actually no one teaches basic us art of cheating (here, I am not talking about cheating involved in a professional crimes like some big monetary fraud), even as a child many times we try to cheat or lie to cover up our mistakes or to get some things, many times we label them as child pranks. Lying is an integral part of cheating, they are two sides of the same coin, above question can be reframed as why do people lie? We all use different excuses from time to time to get away with some things which we want to avoid, technically we all lie at some time or other in our life and we don't even notice it or don't even realize that we are lying and even if somebody points us out our mistake we don't take it seriously because we believe as long is doesn't harm any one or if we are not using it for some personal gain or very selfish motive it's fine. We strongly believe that it doesn't qualify as cheating or lying if it doesn't harm anyone. 

We start act of cheating or lying at very young age without even knowing that we are doing it and if you observe carefully it comes to us naturally, we have to teach kids not to lie or not to cheat but they learn these things on their own or we can say it is natural. No parent teaches their child art of cheating or lying but all kids do it as a child, even if we read ancient scriptures like Mahabharat or Srimad Bhagavatam we can see that there are many instances where characters like Krishna used cheating or lying (or telling partial truth) to their advantage. Krishna as a child was involved in many pranks which involved stealing, telling lies to her mother and things like that. All Hindus read these stories with very devotion without realizing that somewhere it creates a impression that its OK to cheat in some cases. I am not saying that because of Krishna's character or some stories in scriptures where cheating is justified we learn it, then people from other religions who read scriptures without such stories (in which all acts of heroes are glorified including their acts involving cheating or lying) should not cheat or lie, but that's not the case, that's why I believe that this tendency of cheating comes naturally to us.

Normally we use or perform act of cheating or lying to coverup something which we don't want others to know or in some situations where we think telling the truth might put us in some trouble, so we do it out of fear of getting exposed or out of greed. Even in very serious and honest relationships (like husband-wife) people cheat, they try to cover up their dishonest acts or mistakes. Many use cheating out of fear of getting caught (this is common for children and kids), many use it to cover up their dishonest acts (in relationships) and many use it just because it's convenient to do it (we call it harmless because it doesn't hurt anyone). Temptation of cheating or lying under many circumstances is very difficult to resist, suppose you are planning to spend all your Sunday at hone and your friend call you for a game of tennis at 6 AM in the morning, you don't want to wake up that early on weekend but also don't want to hurt your friends feeling then you make some excuse like you are not feeling well or you have to go somewhere at 7 so cant come, we give some excuses like this many times, under different situations and we don't even realize that we cheated or lied to our friend. 

So, if it's natural, is it OK to cheat or not? I think we should try to avoid it as much as possible but honestly it's impossible to not to do it totally. I think it depends on situation, as long as it doesn't harm anyone for me it's OK. I am not going to go in technical details what qualifies cheating or lying and what doesn't. I think people cheat or lie because it comes naturally, it's a act of defense which our brain uses with an intention to avoid certain uncomfortable situations. Does this means we can teach our kids that it's OK to cheat or lie under certain situations? and then who will decide what are those situations? what if they develop this habit of cheating or lying? aren't we teaching them something unethical or dangerous? it's very complicated... I think we can compare it with drinking (alcohol), it might be useful in moderate amounts, should be allowed after certain age where one can use their judgement when to use it and when not, but better to avoid it totally if we can..and my view is we should try to avoid it as much as we can because always remember that if we tell the truth we don't have to remember what we said last time...

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

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