Is our society honest? Are you honest?

I always admired Lance Armstrong and it is hard for me to still digest the fact, that he was dishonest. Nike and others may continue to support, I am sure, due to financial implications, but the image is tarnished, for eternity. Noted Indian-American journalist and author, Fareed Zakaria, was suspended and then re-instated, on accounts of plagiarism.
Who are you?I recall my school’s walls had murals and sayings highlighting the importance of being honest at all times. I grew up looking at those just like every other kid. And I cheated in exams for those extra answers to get some more marks. But I consider myself an honest person. Like we all do!
Last year, an IBMer heard my remixes (it is my hobby to mix music) and asked for the name of the song played at a particular juncture in the complete set. As gracious as I am always, I offered him to send the song while I replied with the name of the song. And his response stunned me! He did not want a song for which money has not been paid to the producer as he learned I downloaded it from some site.
In our society in India, we hardly buy music – most of it comes for free from websites. We feel it is all right to download them for free – socially it is not a crime in India. This dishonesty is acceptable just like giving money to a traffic policeman to avoid a ticket. Isn’t this a contronym of sorts?
In this video, Dan Ariely, bestselling author and professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University, examines the mechanisms at work behind dishonest behaviour, and the implications this has for all aspects of our social and political lives.
So the big question we need to ask ourselves is how do we conduct ourselves? And, impacts it has on a larger society and then in turn on us. We do not need examples of Lance and Fareed to bring that change in us. I wonder if those murals are still decorating the walls of my school? I wonder if students still cheat in exams?

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6 thoughts on “Is our society honest? Are you honest?

  1. Neha V August 28, 2012 at 9:10 am Reply

    with reference to Lance’s topic…I however feel, this issue is more than being honest or dishonest to yourself…It has reached a height where people now hv to either prove or quit provin their integrity..I recently went thru his press note which showed complete signs of kneeling down to unnecessary investigation here it is…


    • Khalid Raza August 28, 2012 at 11:54 am Reply

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Neha. I read Lance’s responses too and may be that’s why Nike and others are still standing by, however, as I wrote above, the image somewhere gets tarnished and raises a doubt. I chose, very carefully, Lance and Fareed, as both have clarified post the news of wrongdoing.

      The bigger question we all need to ask, as Prashant mentions below is, are we honest when no one is watching us. The video embedded above talks about how we rationalize and explin what we did to have the image intact, but we still do some dishonesty.


  2. Prashant August 28, 2012 at 11:48 am Reply

    dishonesty or honesty is a trait or a just a tag?
    We were once taught that you are what you are when nobody is watching you.
    yes, we are honest – but we are honest in the manner that suits the present time.
    Not purely but not vaguely too.

    Nice post bhaijaan ! 🙂


    • Khalid Raza August 28, 2012 at 11:58 am Reply

      I would a trait which becomes a tag. In this video, Dan, posits the same point, we display dishonesty and yet we maintain tat we are honest – as you said, to suit ourselves. This is where a lot of work Anna and others are doing will not yield result unless there is a change people bring in themselves.Will we ever be able to stop downloading music, although we know it is being dishonest or stop paying small bribes to get away?

      Thanks for your perspective and kind words buddy!


  3. Carol Sumner November 16, 2012 at 3:12 am Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Very interesting and completely convinces me that we should not expect people to overcome conflicts of interest. Rather we should build systems/structures that either don’t allow them or help us overcome them.


  4. Khalid Raza November 17, 2012 at 10:07 am Reply

    The temptation of being dishonest and surety of be able to walk away propels people. It is the surety of the result which deters people from doing wrong, but when people know they have chances of walking away, inevitably they do wrong. I agree with you Carol, we need build watertight systems and reliable societal ethics.


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