Bugs In Our Moral Code


Cheating At Life

Many could care less about moral codes as long as they feel they’re getting ahead in life. Thing is, getting ahead means nothing if you then fall far behind.

The current economic crisis is a good example—many people cheating and others looking the other way—all to get ahead—an example of institutionalized cheating that blossoms into international crime.

It’s easy to find studies and articles about cheating, from ways to stop it to ways to regulate it to the whys of its happening.

What’s very hard is finding ways to implement possible solutions to the obvious fact of wide-spread cheating…

An important consideration in any exploration of cheating or moral action is to be clear about why we even have such codes or laws in society.


The word cheat comes from roots that mean to “fall away” and moral comes from “character” and “good”.

There’s a strong emphasis in those words on the group or social unit. There’s also an interesting perspective from which to discuss the social value of unbridled independent action. But that’s a subject for a future post…

The following video is a fascinating exploration of cheating, morals, and economic crime by a behavioral economist. Quite informative and also entertaining:

Spiritual Quote:

“The endowments which distinguish the human race from all other forms of life are summed up in what is known as the human spirit; the mind is its essential quality. These endowments have enabled humanity to build civilizations and to prosper materially. But such accomplishments alone have never satisfied the human spirit, whose mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence, a reaching towards an invisible realm, towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God….No doubt some observers would disagree, observing that religion has sometimes retarded, instead of advanced, social progress. In our view, such cases represent a distortion of religion.

“We would strongly suggest that this and any discussion of social policy give recognition to the role of spiritual principle in the functioning of society and indeed of government. Neither in theory nor in practice, should we separate material and moral affairs in a dichotomous way. The moral capacities and strengths of a nation — and of the global community — may be regarded as its ultimate form of wealth. Deficiencies in this form or wealth too easily lead to material effects as, for example, an unfair distribution of resources or, in the case of war, the near or total destruction of the physical infrastructure.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1987 Sept 09, Social Progress

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8 thoughts on “Bugs In Our Moral Code

  1. What an eye opener. I have been thinking that it may be necessary for us all to rely more upon our intuitions because things are changing so quickly that there may not be time for thorough scientific review. But it is impossible, perhaps, for us to be sure that our intuitions are anything beyond our own individual point of view. Even within a spiritual tradition. Maybe humility is our best tool for attempting to know the truth and acting correctly. Humility and forgiveness, because we are all going to make mistakes.

  2. I got a car insurance bill last night for $831. At present we (my wife and I) only have $600 total, and also have to pay the home insurance (another $700). I get paid on Wednesday and those 2 bills will soak up pretty much all my pay.

    I burst out laughing at the bill. It’s so ridiculous to claw away at getting ahead. I’ll never get ahead, because I’ll always be in this moment now. I’ll pay the bill when I can.

    Why wasn’t I upset? I’m not altogether sure, but I think at that moment the whole notion of money just became a total joke. I went to bed in an excellent mood and had a great night’s sleep.

    I’m a teacher, and I love my job. I get to see people learn things that benefit them and society. I’ll pay the bill when I can.

  3. We mostly object to the concept of cheating; we want to be treated fairly, meaning, not secretly having the rug pulled out from under us somewhere.

    The Golden Rule and Categorical Imperative seem to address the spiritual and or karmic necessities of being fair to others, giving them the right to be fair to you, or something to that effect. I feel we, I included, have benefited much from my own ignorance, like; What do my needs and wants do to the earth–carbon footprint? What do the relatively cheep goods here have to do with workers suffering in China and elsewhere?

    Being naturally repelled by cheating, and really owning up to the nature of cheating; where I own up to the greater impacts of my own actions, seems to require a greater sense of connection than I might find comfortable in my private wants.

    What I like about owning up to my incongruous ignorance in action is, that I can begin to act more responsibly, and with a more true awareness. My own value on earth is known more clearly as I realize I do not “get away with” cheating Life.

    • You say an awareness of the impact of cheating “seems to require a greater sense of connection than I might find comfortable in my private wants”.

      You lay out in that statement the biggest challenge I face in my daily life!

      We *are* connected, deeply; and, the greater each of our awarenesses of that Truth becomes, the closer we get to heaven on earth…

  4. Wow! I love this whole thing but this line just jumped right off the page and reflects some deep thought on this topic, a level of thought is almost completely overlooked in out culture:

    “An important consideration in any exploration of cheating or moral action is to be clear about why we even have such codes or laws in society.”

    This could apply to kids who cheat in school or kids that lie and “cheat” with their parents. Just as a kid lies because they learn that their parents scream or hit if they tell the truth. So honesty is no longer an option. It could apply to many areas of our culture — or simply of human nature. I think lying often comes about because people (especially kids) do not have reinforced the reality that honesty is an option. And…that honesty could bring about change or reassessment of a situation. Resulting in new guidelines set down, more needs met, etc.

    This is some truly liberated thinking here.
    Thank you Alex.

    • You’ve brought up some very important considerations:

      Lying because the truth brings punishment…

      The idea that reality isn’t an apparent option for some folks…

      That honesty can Change Things!

      Wonderful perceptions, Robin!!!

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