My parents always taught my brother and I right from wrong, and that included no lying, no cheating, no hurting anyone. But this week the news has been about well known and admired people who didn’t seem to learn those lessons early in life or just don’t care. Their actions show their indifference to the moral codes of conduct and integrity. These are people who really should know better, people in respected positions, people who are well off and have absolutely no excuse for committing their wrong actions and then not taking ownership of them when confronted. It's disgraceful.
We had weeks of Bill Cosby’s accusers coming forward to speak up about how he drugged and raped them. He was already famous and could have had many willing sexual partners. Instead he chose innocent women, some just young girls, to victimize. Why did he hurt all these women who trusted him? Because he could? Because he has an arrogant massive ego? Because he knew he would get away with it? He knew it was wrong, time nd time again, and he did it anyway.
We had the number one football team in the country, the Patriots, deflate footballs to give themselves a game winning edge that they didn’t even need. They were willing to tarnish their reputation by breaking the established regulations of the game. Why? Because they felt they are too important to the game to be punished? Because they needed to win by an extra point or two? Because winning by cheating is more important than an ethical loss by fair play? They knew it was wrong, but they did it anyway.
And let’s not forget the biggest cheater in the history of cycling, Lance Armstrong. Armstrong took steroids and used other unethical medical means to gain an advantage and “won” seven Tours de France. The whole time he denied ever doing anything against the rules. When he finally confessed and apologized on Oprah, long after the cat was out of the bag and he was disgraced, his apology wasn’t the least bit sincere. I say that because he summed up every single unethical act, over the course of seven years, as “one lie.” I was disgusted with his so called apology. Can a man like this sink any lower? Yes he can. This week Lance Armstrong was driving, hit two parked cars, and then sped off. When authorities caught up with him, he had convinced his girlfriend to take the blame and say she was driving. Lance’s luck ran out when his girlfriend wasn’t nearly as skilled at lying as he is. Her story wasn’t consistent and authorities soon figured out Lance was driving that car. Why did Lance lie? Because he has a massive ego? Because he is arrogant? I don’t get it. He knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway.
And then we have highly respected news anchorman, Brian Williams, of NBC, who just signed a 5 year contract for 10 million a year, misremembering “facts.” Yes he apologized for conflating the details of his stories, to inflate his own self importance. He altered the facts when he is supposed to be reporting the truth. His career lives or dies based on his credibility and yet he put that credibility and his career at risk. Why? To make himself sound more important than he is? For the glory? To make himself a more newsworthy subject in addition to a reporter? He knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway.
When my parent instilled the principles of right and wrong in me, they stuck with me. My parents lead me to believe that good citizens in society would behave according to the same code of right and wrong. I’m sure most people do. I like to believe most do. And maybe what really bothers me about these four situations is that these are powerful, influential, people who are well known and have significant wealth. They are in the public spotlight. They are looked up to and respected. They should be setting examples and acting as role models. Instead, they are liars, cheaters and rapists that walk around unpunished with their heads held high. How do they look themselves in the mirror? I have no idea.