Monday, November 5, 2012

Does Honesty Have a Price?

We watched last night's Amazing Race episode where the teams head off to Turkey. They started off at a travel agency, where the teams found they'd be all together on the flight. Then one of the teams (James and Abba) dropped their wad of cash as they exited the room. Two other teams noticed the cash right away and before you could say "Good Samaritan", the "Twinnies" had pocketed the money and were giggling about how screwed James and Abba would be when they noticed it.

Even worse, they laughingly showed the money to another team, the cute little cheerleader and her boy toy from Texas, Trey and Lexi. Trey seemed to disapprove, but Lexi agreed that it was great after the "Twinnies" said that they would split the money with them. James and Abba noticed about two seconds later that their money was missing. But, they couldn't go back and find it because it was gone. They ended up talking to locals in Bangladesh, asking politely if anyone could spare some money to help. The local people gave them enough and they were back in the race.
There are so many things wrong with this story...
Yes, this is a race around the world for a million dollar prize. Yes, competition is key. Still, doesn't honesty matter despite the potential payday?
Sure, it was only about $100... BUT this was the $100 James and Abba needed to leave Bangladesh and to continue on the race. 
It is, simply put, a very cheap way to try to get ahead in the race. It wasn't their money. They knew whose money it was. And yet they took it. They could have left it there. They could have returned it to James and Abba. They could have even taken it and given it to a random homeless guy or something. But instead they just kept it.
Let's pretend for a second that this isn't a race for one million dollars. Let's say you are walking to work and you see a person ahead of you drop a wad of cash. ABSOLUTELY the honest thing is to return it to them. Or, at the very least, bring it to the police station. There is no scenario where it would be okay to keep it.
So why in the world is it "okay" for these racers to keep the money. I would not sell my integrity for one million dollars. I just wouldn't. I don't cheat. I don't lie. I never will.
"Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving." (James Faust)
I read a story once that I thought was interesting. In 1942 James Faust, a member of the United States Army Air Corps, had applied for Officer's Candidate School. At his interview, he was asked a number of questions regarding more than just his qualifications. His beliefs were called into question too. He was asked if he prayed, if he smoked or drank. Finally he was asked the following, and I quote, "In times of war, should not the moral code be relaxed? Does not the stress of battle justify men in doing things that they would not do when at home under normal situations?” [He] recognized that here was a chance perhaps to make some points and look broad-minded. [He] suspected that the men who were asking this question did not live by the standards that [he] had been taught. The thought flashed through [his]mind that perhaps [he] could say that [he] had [his] own beliefs, but [he] did not wish to impose them on others. But there seemed to flash before [his]mind the faces of the many people [he respected]. In the end [he] simply said, “I do not believe there is a double standard of morality.” End quote. 
There shouldn't be a double standard of honesty. Right is always right and wrong is always wrong, regardless of the price.
Did you watch this episode? What did you think?

1 comment:

  1. We don't get that show in Ireland, but I think you're right to be appalled. I'm all for competition and people trying their best to succeed, but stealing money has nothing to do with running a race. It's no better than tripping them while running.