A couple weeks ago I watched a documentary about honesty and dishonesty called (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies. It is very insightful on how and why people lie and cheat.
It is important to recognize when we are being dishonest and our motivations for doing so. The documentary lists the following motivations and gives examples in each of these categories:
- Everybody is doing it
- Conflicts of interest
- I’m not hurting anyone
- Lying for others
- Lack of supervision
- Social norms
- Distance from the crime
- Self deception
No matter what and why we might be tempted to take shortcuts, no matter how much we can rationalize taking advantage of the system, we must realize that eventually the truth will come to light.
People do take shortcuts, they think they can gain a short term advantage by cheating the system. They don’t realize that by taking a longer view, working in the system, and cooperating, they stand to gain much more.
We have built a competitive society where we think we need to get ahead of everyone else. That the people around us are competitors for a limited resource. We find time and again though, that if we work together as a team we can do better than if we work as individuals. By building social trust, we stand to gain more by combining our abilities.
If we can build a trust with people around us we can achieve so much more. If there is an understanding that we can achieve more through teamwork and that individuals taking advantage hurt more than they help, I would hope that people would be more willing to work cooperatively.
If you watch how people work in situations where they need to work together, groups are far more successful if they work in a coordinated fashion rather than a bunch of individuals who just happen to be in the same place.
I don’t want to imply that we all work as one giant collective, I think though, that it appears our sense of social trust is gone and we can achieve much more collectively if we strive to work together rather than apart.