Tell the Truth—Are Americans Honest? What Happened to Being a Good Sport?

We were meeting for a family hike a two weeks before Thanksgiving. Our one opportunity to safely socialize before the holidays.  I wrapped up coloring books and crayons as gifts. Which book for which child?  Caleb is five and Eli is two. Mysteriously the stacks, once opened shifted. Caleb claimed the zoo animal book I’d intended for Eli.  Unabashedly he insisted it was his present. 

He’s only five years old. He’s got the sweetest smile and such rosy cheeks. Could I blame him for asserting his preferences? Even if he wasn’t playing by the rules, he was being honest in showing what he wanted? But we live by a certain  set of rules.  At an early age, most of us are taught not to cheat. 

Children test the limits inside the house and at school. Adolescents test the limits in the larger world. What can I get away with? Who is going to stop me?

Is that how people rationalize cheating? If I can get away with it, then its okay.  

Who is always honest? I think all of us at one time or another have cheated. Maybe it was as simple as glancing at someone else’s answer on a test  at school or taking an extra turn at a game, when no one was looking. We were kids.

As adults, the stakes are higher. Sometimes it comes down to the bare necessities of survival. Earning a living. At one time I was an antique dealer. In my twenties I began exhibiting and selling at shows around the United States and customers would ask, “How’s the show? Doing well?” I’d answer honestly. For me, a new dealer, business was slow.

 I couldn’t figure out why all the other dealers, even if they were new to that particular venue, were always having a “great show” and making so many sales. But they weren’t. Not actually. They were lying that first day or two because they knew that no one likes a loser. The psychology was, if customers thought you were successful and had a following, they’d feel more confident shopping in your booth.

So I had to learn how to sound upbeat and happy, even if inside I was worrying how I was going to pay my booth rent. I learned how to lie and say “business has never been better” and I started writing up sales tickets. A soft lie, yes. But a shading of the truth nevertheless.

 We’ve all lied at one time or another. Many of our lies, are attempts to make ourselves appear more accomplished or more attractive than we actually are. Have you noticed there’s often a dramatic difference between the profile photos posted on a social media site and the present day appearance of the actual person? They look so much younger and thinner. And what do we say about ourselves when seeking employment? A few years ago I took a look at a colleague’s resume posted on a social media website and was shocked at what they wrote. Accomplishments I knew to be untrue. Common practice?  Where to draw the line between shrewd and duplicitous?

Americans want to be winners. No one remembers the game was close. In the end they remember who won.

So I guess that’s why the people we voted in as our political leaders, think its quite alright to try and figure out a way to throw away thousands of ballots. If it makes their candidate the winner. 

But wait. What if the ballots their voters cast for them were thrown out as well? I cannot for the life of me figure out how Americans supporting democracy would vote for someone like Lindsey Graham who has no respect for the democratic process. But I’m willing to  accept the outcome of the South Carolina electorate although I wish Jaimie Harrison had won. 

 From an early age we are taught sportsmanship. It’s an honor to play on a team. The benefits are great. When a player is injured on the field, in youth sports, everyone sits.  If the coach decides they need to take a break, leave the field with an icepack, the other players clap to acknowledge their support. Both teams clap, because they respect the sport. It’s bigger than the individual teams.

 Good sportsmanship means playing by the rules. No pushing, shoving, kicking. No fouls. 

 Being elected to uphold the American constitution as President or as a member of Congress is an honor. You are serving others, all the American people –not just your specific supporters. You are part of a team working towards a greater good. Given everything that’s happened in the political landscape over these past few years, it’s obvious that foul plays have gone out of control. A daily dose of lies from the current president is now commonplace.  We’ve got a sore loser in the White House who is refusing to concede and we have a Republican Senate led by Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham that is supporting his divisive unpatriotic actions. 

I think I’ll go wrap up some more gifts for the Holidays. Maybe a copy of the American Constitution for the Senators—if they’d actually read it. 

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Storynews. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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