Welcome to America: Where Cheaters Live.
I know, it’s not the official motto of America, but I feel that it should be. I’m sad that America has turned into a country that has such a strong culture of cheating.
Alex Rodriguez became the latest high profile athlete to admit to using steroids or a “banned substance” as it’s so frequently called. In this article, A-Rod says, “And I did take a banned substance and, you know, for that I’m very sorry and deeply regretful. And although it was the culture back then and Major League Baseball overall was very — I just feel that — You know, I’m just sorry. I’m sorry for that time. I’m sorry to fans. I’m sorry for my fans in Texas. It wasn’t until then that I ever thought about substance of any kind.”
However, this isn’t just about A-Rod’s shady behavior. It’s not about how he had us all fooled into thinking that he was genuinely one of the best baseball players ever. It’s not even about the kids who now know that their hero is, in part, a fraud.
It’s about cheating and the quest to get ahead. The drive to be successful by any means necessary. I see it in my classrooms, and all over the school. People feel that the only way to become successful is by cutting corners. One of my good friends always says, “It’s hard to build your soul when everyone around you is selling theirs.”
This frustrates me. It saddens me. It angers me. All at the same time. Perhaps it’s my background. When I was growing up, it was not enough to win or to achieve. It had to be done in the right way; the honorable way. And while I may not have always come out of the situation with the victory, I could take pride in knowing that I had taken the appropriate approach to the situation.
What is it about our culture that produces this drive to cheat? How can we change it?
Below you’ll find a poem that I first read as a middle schooler. It helped shape my perspective and reaffirmed to me that at the end of the day, I need to be able to be true to myself and have my own dignity and self respect.
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
My closing thoughts can be summed up by Philipians 4:7-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Don’t lose yourself in the process of trying to attain what you THINK is important. The reason that most people fail instead of succeeding is because they trade what they want most for what they want most at the moment. We have to be better about making ourselves better people, not just people who have better things.