Originally Published February 24, 2013
I just listened to an interview with David Wolfe about the intentionally deceptive takeover of the company he previously owned, Sunfood. It inspired me to finally write this blog, which I have been meaning to for a while, about honesty.
Essentially, David hired an employee who turned out to be affiliated with Monsanto. This information was, of course, kept from him. While David was on the road doing events as he does most of the year, this employee intentionally spread lies about David and turned much of the rest of the company against him. Through some extremely expert maneuvering I did not entirely understand, he managed to saddle David personally with a bunch of debt while he worked for Sunfood for free. Eventually, he was actually pushed completely out of the company.
After a massively long and expensive legal battle, David Wolfe’s name is still on Sunfood’s products, against his will, even though he has not had anything to do with that company in years. This is just one more act in the play of Big Agribusiness’s desperate grab at every corner of the food industry. It seems to cause them some kind of excruciating pain to allow even a dollar to enter the pocket of a single competitor.
What I can’t seem to stop banging my head against the wall over is, how can people do it? How can people knowingly, intentionally, slyly, and cunningly deceive others? Call me naive, but I just don’t get it! It would be one thing if it was to bring a loved one back to you, for instance. Though still deceptive, at least the purpose would be to continue a relationship. But in this type of situation, it’s for something totally empty and hollow: profit and power.
These “winners” get what they want not by bending the rules, but laughing hysterically over them as they rip them up, chew them to bits and spit them out.
People are going to jail for stealing bread to feed their families while CEOs commit massive fraud and deception and are celebrated for it.
Is “winning” sooooo great as to be worth anything to achieve it?? This is obsession turned into psychosis.
The book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh has a very poignant discussion about being honest. It says that a highly-evolved being would consider “winning” by the route of lying, cheating, and stealing to be a victory so hollow as to be considered a “staggering defeat.” Is such a perspective really that far-fetched for the rest of us? I see no reason why it should be.
I just keep thinking: We teach kindergarteners not to lie, cheat, or steal. We teach them to share, be kind, be fair to others, respect others, and to play by the rules. We scold them harshly when they do not do this. Our kindergarteners who follow our simple teachings are acting far more evolved than some of those of the most rewarded and celebrated people in the world.
When and how do these same kindergarteners grow up to hear that ACTUALLY, it’s perfectly ok to do all those things you learned not to. Especially if it’s for money and power! Or–when did they learn that money, power, and status are SO important, simple ethical behavior involving respecting others no longer matters and is far less important?
I think the discussion about teaching morals in school is fascinating. Religious groups have been in favor of such a thing for many years, while the secular feel it belongs in the church and home but not the schools.
My question is: How are simple codes of conduct between humans so specialized as teachings that they are tied into specific religions, putting them under a category of “faith”?
And even if we do credit teachings such as loving our neighbors, being honest, and refraining from killing to Jesus, are these really too far-fetched for the rest of us to agree on, religiously-affiliated or not?
What would happen if an awareness of morality was embedded in all the subjects taught? What if we learned about history, through the very subjective and complex lens of morality, ethics, and simple cause-and-effect relationships when personal priorities take over, including rich discussion and sharing of perspectives? History happened via humans, not in a closed off laboratory. It can only be understood for what it was by realizing this and embracing it through honest discussion.
History, of course, cannot be shared objectively to begin with anyway. That would be impossible. Instead of presenting it in a way claimed to be objective, why not throw objectivity out and let multiple perspectives be shared and be passionately and openly discussed and debated?
How else can we learn from the past, clean up the present, and make a better future?
Unfortunately, many would be threatened by discussions that concluded simple selfishness, dishonesty, and other negative behaviors have been behind the greatest tragedies we have faced. And that they are still behind the greatest tragedies. Many do not want change, and certainly don’t want to be called out on anything. Many feel it is ok to bend, break, and stomp on any rule, any agreement to fairness, to get what they personally desire, and they would kick and scream at any effort to change that.
I don’t think we will experience the takeover of any church in the classrooms if kids are asked, “Why do you think that happened? Why did people act that way? What was their motivation?” In cases of negative outcomes–which I think we can all agree are things like war, death, dictatorships, 80-hour workweeks and so on, are we imposing religion on anyone to point out that actions coming from fairness tend to produce health-promoting outcomes while other types of actions do not?
We can really throw the word “morality” out the window if we want to anyway. What are the causes of humans behaving one way, as opposed another way? What are the outcomes when personalities and personal interest rule out over fairness, respect, honesty, and equality? Let’s use logic and put two and two together. Religion has nothing to do with it in this sense. What works? What doesn’t work? What produces freedom and abundance and what produces oppression, disease, and death? This isn’t rocket science, but by the looks of the world today, you would think it was at least that sophisticated.
This post may seem like a stretch for a health website, but let me assure you that acting with integrity is deeply tied to our personal health.
When we lie, we feel it deep down. Whether not we are aware of it, an unsettled, disturbed, and even ugly feeling is there. We can ignore and deny it, but it is there, and it will gnaw at you and make you crazy. Intentionally deceiving others, especially, above all else, for personal gain, is a powerful decision with many ramifications we are probably not even aware of. To lie is to steal from oneself. To know and not feel right do not help our bodies or minds stay healthy. In the long run, it’s just another way we can hurt ourselves and develop a physical ailment.
“Think globally, act locally” was perhaps not written to encourage ethical ways of living in our day-to-day lives. But it applies perfectly here. We can’t change the moral habits of the most powerful people on the planet, but we can act with integrity in our own lives. By changing our own energy, we affect the energy of every single person on the planet. We create an invitation to act similarly. What would you invite people to be?
Are you acting authentically and sincerely in your personal relationships? Are you misleading others about who you really are to get them to like you or give you something you want? Are you seeking a job with a fair representation of your skills and background? Have you told your spouse or partner everything you know they deserve to know? Are you charging a fair price for your merchandise? Are you paying your employees the salary they deserve? Are you taking stuff home from work that your company owns without their permission? Have you paid back those to whom you owe money once you can afford it? The list goes on. We can only each examine our own lives, hearts, and behaviors and align ourselves with the highest expression of who we are.