Why So Much Dishonesty?
AN OLD English proverb claims that “opportunity makes the thief.” Contrarily, there are some who insist that “the thief makes the opportunity.”
Regardless of how it begins, dishonesty in its many forms has reached alarming proportions. Much of it has become so commonplace, however, that many persons no longer view it as dishonest.
Take some typical situations. An employer tells a clerk to reduce the amount shown in the accounts as received for certain sales. The clerk takes the view that it is not objectionable because he is simply doing what the boss directs. A wife cheats on the family budget, assuring herself that she is entitled to a little something of a personal nature. A husband tells his wife that he has to work overtime, but he goes out with his pals or, perhaps, with another woman.
One shopkeeper recently stated that youngsters come into his shop in groups. While one buys, the rest raid the counter. “When I was a lad,” he says, “boys were scared when caught. The sad thing is that now, they couldn’t care less. In some areas, if you tell them off, they come back and smash your windows.”
And it is not the underprivileged classes that do it all. Not long ago, an elderly titled woman in England was convicted of shoplifting. And who has not read of embezzlements, some small but others that run into the millions?
What are the causes of this overwhelming trend toward dishonesty? There are many. From infancy most children are subjected to its insidious influence. Folklore, classical stories such as “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” films, TV programs and many books glorify dishonesty in one way or another.
In an interview a man in São Paulo, Brazil, blamed the influence of such religious practices as easy forgiveness, through confession, for many wrongs done. One woman admitted that her world of honesty collapsed when “Father Christmas” turned out to be a relative. From the stork that is said to bring babies, to politicians with empty promises—in all areas of life we are surrounded by powerful influences that tend to condition the mind to dishonesty.
Some persons cannot see the harm in what they call “little white lies,” but the founder of Christianity said: “Whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones.” He also identified the Devil as ‘the father of lies’ and as the one to whom mankind in general submits as ruler. That is surely food for thought, and it helps us to understand why dishonesty is so widespread.—Luke 16:10, Today’s English Version; see also John 8:44; 14:30.