Have we ever had a time in history where the dominant cultural norm was to take responsibility for your actions? Has integrity ever really mattered or do we just romanticize the idea and look back fondly thinking, well back in those days… Was there a time when a handshake was good enough and if you gave your word you felt a responsibility to keep your word. I mean, you actually felt something, inside, in your head the voice said ‘you said you would do this, it is the right thing to do,’ or you had the sense of being bad when you didn’t. I just wonder.
I don’t think we did ever have a time when that was the norm, but I do think we have been working on finding a way to make it the norm for ever. Really ever. The Ten Commandments are really old and those they may be some of the first codified rules for behavior we have ample evidence of cultural mores imposing sanctions for bad behavior before we started writing it down.
I also know that it is hard to follow all the rules. We are humans and are in a constant push – pull of immediate desire and longer-term planning. We get scared, we get sad, we get angry or lonely or egotistical and then we do things and after we say to ourselves, “gosh I didn’t think that through real well.” The problem I am having right now is with what comes out of the mouth after we do something wrong (universal we here, not necessarily saying I do this or suggesting it’s the way to go). Instead of saying what is in our head, which I hope is something along the lines of “whoops, my bad,” we jump to “no I didn’t,” “not me,” “not my fault, didn’t happen, not what it looks like,” blah blah blah. And maybe if you say it long enough you start to believe what you are saying so then it really does make sense when someone moves from ‘nope, not I,” to “it’s your fault anyway!”
Ashley Madison and their woes are not really a headline anymore, but I am sure you heard the news. They got hacked and then the hackers exposed all the names of the people who had accounts. And there were a whole bunch of people who had created careers by telling other people how to live their lives who should have been embarrassed but who seemed instead to be really okay with the publicity. The CEO resigned because it’s bad when you have an entire business model built on the keeping of secrets for people and then you expose those secrets, at least he took some responsibility. But let’s just consider the people with accounts who got all up in arms so to speak when their information was exposed: they voluntarily signed-up for a service to commit adultery, to aid them in lying to someone to whom they had made a promise. These are bad things to do. They are not bad just because a faith practice has a list that says they are bad, they are bad because they hurt other people and we can do a deep philosophical thing here about how hurting others is inherently wrong or we can just agree that avoiding causing pain to our fellow humans is the way to go. So I found it disheartening when said wrong-doers decided to file a law suit saying they were wronged. Come on folks, you put your information on the internet, I think by now you should know that privacy is not a guarantee once you hit submit. And so rather than just taking the big karmic whap in the face and saying ‘let me work on fixing the damage I have done’ they started point ing fingers at someone else.
Is that how we have always done things? Maybe, maybe we try something new…