During my growing years through the forties and fifties I was raised with the mantra do as I say, not as I do. This came from my father who was an inveterate cheater in so many ways. Family card and board games could be fun, but they included a scattering of seemingly innocent incidents of cheating, almost as a male prerogative. They also were often stressful since it seemed that being the winner was the most important goal, and those who did not win were losers. He loved golf, and while I do not know if he cheated while playing the game, I do know when he played with my father-in-law, who could play with the pros, he quit golf entirely. Being able to win was that important to him. Then there was the truly egregious cheating on my mother with other women. Once, during a family dinner, my father complained about the then governor of the state being involved in an affair. This became too much for me, and I made some comment about people who did such things should not complain about others, which opened up a diatribe about the politicians needing to set the example and being better than the common man. This conversation was over 50 years ago, and here we are today with a far more egregious cheater than my father in charge of the destiny of our once great country.
Full disclosure, I did cheat once during my high school years. Ironically it was in a class I aced anyway. Looking for something in the class locker I happened on our test coming the following day. On a lark I read and memorized the questions, and ended up with a score of 100. This did not alarm the teacher, since I always was in the high 90s in history. I ended up regretting having read the test simply because it was wrong. There have been other temptations, when people do you wrong it seems okay to take something, say something, act in a way injurious to that person…except it truly is not okay because in many nuanced ways it will hurt you more than the person you attempt to hurt. We should also always remember that cheating or bullying in order to win demeans not only the cheater/bully but anyone enabling that person.
We now have a body politic that believes constant lying, constant cheating, power grabs will make them winners. If they cannot actually win then hamstringing those who are replacing them or their replacement choice is the next best thing, as witness the desire of one state’s legislative body to make the incoming Democratic Governor powerless. If the majority of citizens want health care (or Hillary Clinton), for instance, gerrymander the states, suppress the votes, to the point that the opposing party cannot win and let the minority rule. Cheat to win. Since when has our lovely USA turned into a win at any cost, let the populace stew and cry, let the scientific community dwindle and die, let the experts go unheard, kind of country?
Please give me a doctor, a dentist, a vet, a teacher who is a learned expert in their profession or field. Why should we want less in those entities who will be dealing with the world leaders? Handling our countries money? Making health or environmental policies that will affect all of our citizens? Sending our young people across the globe to fight our wars? Being educated and versed in the kind of tasks and communication required in any of those jobs should be a given.
It truly does not matter what high morals you believe in, or what deity you worship. What matters are the deeds you do, your attitude towards all other inhabitants of our ailing planet, and the actions you take to make our world a better place. I watched my father cheat to get what he wanted from life, I saw my mothers distress, I know the damage he did to my life. Now I am forced to watch our president take over one of our two main political parties, encourage cheating at all levels, making policies injurious to the very people who love him, and bullying his way through life over the bodies of anyone in his way. Sadly, it is not all on him. The Republican Congress abdicated their job of acting as a check and balance to the president and making him accountable. Their mantra is the public and the opposition should follow moral and judicial laws but the Republicans have the right to cheat if necessary in order to win, and they should have the ability to make the majority live as they decree.
I have always heard “cheaters never prosper”, yet in my lifetime I have seen an abundance of cheaters who skate through life on the backs and lives of those they cheat. Is this how our once proud country sinks into the sea, or do we, the people, have the will and the stamina to fight for a kinder, gentler, more inclusive nation that illuminates those “thousand points of light?” Only time will tell.