On Cheating

As I ponder the Major League baseball cheating scandal and the potential downfall of my beloved Redsox, I realize that cheating is nothing new, whether the scenario is baseball, politics, or just day-to-day living. Even my Church has cheated through lying.

The bottom line of cheating appears to be “It’s only a problem if you get caught!” And if we are all honest with ourselves, we sometimes delight in someone “getting away with it.” Take Gaylord Perry, for example. Perry had a Hall of Fame career. Perry also used the spitball, a pitch that was illegal for many years. Perry never hid the fact that he was cheating. When he retired, he said “Well, baseball will be a little drier now.” I confess that I appreciated this trickster figure.

Election cheating is also nothing new, whether it involves preventing poor people from registering to vote to dumping voting machines into Lake Michigan. Persons running for elected office have long been willing to “get away with” illegal/unethical ways of padding their vote.

Cheating in business also seems to be a way of life whether it is knowingly selling an inferior product, falsifying a tax return, billing for services not delivered, etc. Even the  Bible notes the challenge of people cheating in business.

Is honesty going the way of such values as church attendance? In this fast-paced world, is honesty no longer relevant? Like the call to non-violence, does Jesus’ invitation to honesty suggest that he was nothing more than a naive idealist?

The ultimate challenge of honesty is to be honest with oneself. How often do I make excuses? Overlook bad behavior? How often do I justify lying? Perhaps our culture has become so tolerant of cheating that we don’t feel a need to hold ourselves accountable.

Yes, there are uproars. Baseball managers are being fired. Players may be implicated. Election results are being questioned because of cheating through foreign influence. I’d like to think this outrage reflects some moral awakening but I doubt it.

So what do I do? As with the issue of violence, perhaps the only recourse I have is the most important one — do a moral inventory on my own level of dishonesty and take the necessary steps to establish a more honest, cheat-free lifestyle. Perhaps as I point a finger at any suspected cheater from a baseball manager to a President, I need to recall Shakespeare’s words: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”