Monday, 13 February 2012

What to do when forced to be corrupt


If you are a teacher in a situation as described below, a situation where the methods of evaluation (exams) allow cheating and consequently there is a lot of cheating of various levels and types:

If you are in this situation which strongly encourages lying, and rewards clever lying - and hence is evil, then...

What should you actually do?


The most obvious responses are

1. to go along with things and join in the usual excuses.

This is obviously the major means by which moderns are corrupted - people are made complicit with corruption, and given the title of hypocrite unless they adjust their ideals to fit what they actually do.

So corrupt people simple deny that what they do, what they are coerced to do, is corruption.  


Or 2. The 'obvious' alternative is to fight every step of the way through the system - to pick up the most inept examples of cheating and try and impose exemplary punishments as a deterrent (recognising that you will be fought every inch of the way).

But in reality the second is on the one hand futile - a diversion of potentially productive effort into Quixotic behaviour, and on the other hand a false reassurance which in fact has the opposite effect.

However, the situation of dishonesty within bureaucracies, institutions, organisations, corporations etc. is simply another instance of the basic, fallen human condition; in which we cannot stop from sinning.


We cannot stop sinning, but what we must do is:

1. Acknowledge and Repent our sins, ask Forgiveness.

2. Do not defend sins: acknowledge the situation, do not excuse the situation, do not promote the sinful situation.

If you are being coerced, the acknowledge to yourself and others that you are being coerced and (without exaggerating) the scope and nature of that coercion - so that it is clear to yourself and others what was your 'price'.


When asked why we do this, why we go-along-with that - we ought to reply, we believe it is wrong because we are being forced to do such, or bribed to do such.

But we should not ever defend the wrong that we have been forced or bribed to do. 

And we should do no more than we have to do.


Aside from Saints, we all have a price, and it may be a low one - but being bullied or bought-off need not threaten salvation if it is honestly acknowledged, repented - if we state our weakness and ask forgiveness for our weakness.

But that is a very different matter from the usual business of serving evil, excusing evil, covering-up for evil, pretending that we like evil and that it really is Good...



dearieme said...

As I may have told you, I was once involved as an examiner in a case of cheating by a candidate. The instruction I got from The Powers That Be was not "whatever you do, protect our standards" but rather "whatever you do, keep this out of the courts".

Bruce Charlton said...

I should point out that dearieme taught at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my cynicism, but universities that allow cheating have at least something to be said for them, viz. a perverse recognition of standards, even if their maintenance has long gone.

A more insidious practice, I suggest, is the trend for assessments to made on the basis of work done as a group. Here we have a system openly devoid of standards, as well as of course being truly heaven for the artful drone and the deeply stupid.

A solution? Never use a lawyer or doctor who is under the age of 50, especially if at stake is your freedom or your life.

Alan Roebuck said...

This reminds me of a comment of mine posted at View From the Right:

So imagine the following scenario. A non-liberal is being pressured publicly to approve of homosexuality. The liberals are able to bring overwhelming force to bear on him. He responds, publicly, like this:

I know in the privacy of my own mind and heart that homosexual activity is a sin, and harmful to society. But I will keep my beliefs private. Since you are holding a metaphorical gun to my head, I will obey your orders. When ordered to, I will do any of the following: Publicly honor homosexuality. Hire and promote homosexuals. Use the word "gay." Go through the motions of publicly supporting "gay rights," including same-sex pseudo-marriage. I will not publicly badmouth homosexuality, unless you ask me what my beliefs are. But in the privacy of my own mind and heart, I will know that you are wrong. I will never agree with you.


Gyan said...

This would be conniving with evil and is not a satisfactory solution.

CS Lewis has wondered why there are no riots anymore.
Traditional mores were enforced in no small ways by popular riots.

At one time people would not ask a divorcée to
their home. Now they would share dais with an abortionist or a pornographer.

In Third World like India or Muslim Middle East, a vulgar advertisement hoarding is liable to be torn out but in West conservatives worry about property rights. You are justified in calling the Third World behavior as barbaric and uncivilized but they certainly know what is more important.

Regarding cheating, Solzenitsyn was a school teacher in exile and the local bosses pressured him to allow cheating. He let them with no qualms. To him, it was their system and let them cheat in it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - interesting reflections - and I did not know that story about Solzhenitsyn.

In cultures where cheating is rampant, my sense is that it is normal to disbelieve in the validity of results and qualifications.

But in modern Britain where cheating is (but only for the past couple of decades) endemic and intrinsic, it is taboo to discuss the subject and regarded as offensive, indeed aggressive, even to raise the subject of the validity of exams and educational qualifications.

We know there is large scale cheating, yet we must pretend there is not.

This is something strange - maybe distinctive to Britain. A Russian commented to me that modern British life was familiar to him from pre-1989 Russia; but he found it remarkable that the British persisted in regarding government and managerial initiatives as well-motivated, as if they were trying ineptly to do the right thing.

There is in Britain an assumption of decency and honesty - against which bad intent and corruption must be proven for every specific instance.

The totalitarian nature of British society is becoming very advanced, yet most people don't notice because they assume it is necessary in some un-understood fashion...

Bruce Charlton said...

The basic problem is that one cannot maximise happiness in this life, and salvation - to try and avoid suffering and at the same time put love of God as the first priority.

And sometimes you are forced into a corner.

What happens is that you are forced to endure some degree of suffering.

Even if it is simply maintaining the 'cognitive dissonance' of knowing that you sinned because you were too weak - instead of the easy option of saying to yourself that what you did was not really a sin - then this is vital to do: it is vital to endure the suffering.

One certainly ought not speak out in favour of that which one thinks is sinful - but if one is so forced, then one should not try to do a good job of it - one should show one's insincerity and suffering rather than putting on a convincing act.

If one is, however, forced to put on a convincing act... then that is a desperate situation indeed; and its desperation should be kept alive in mind and repented and reptented in prayer.

This kind of suffering must (I think) be endured (asking God for help to endure) and not eluded.

I suppose the ultimate form of resistance to evil is to embrace (somehow) misery, for God's sake. Many have done so in greater ages, but we (or at least I) are ill equipped to do so nowadays.

Alan Roebuck said...

@ Gyan (assuming you are responding to my post)

You said “That would be conniving with evil…”

But my hypothetical statement said “If ordered to, I will [act as if I accept perversion.]” It did not say that I will speak in support of perversion spontaneously and voluntarily.

It is rather like Solzenitsyn’s position: "It’s your system, so I will play along when necessary."

Bruce Charlton said...

@AR - I suppose, however, that for some people a point may be reached where some specific thing that is asked becomes impossible.

If or when that person suddenly refuses to 'go along with' what is being asked, he will be accused of inconsistency and hypocrisy, having previously gone along with what was asked.

But for a Christian that should not be a telling argument - the Christian should know he is a backsliding sinner, but that a lifetime of cowardly, hedonistic, cruel sin is not a barrier to repenting and refusing sin here and now.

Gyan said...

IS it a true repentance if one is ready to sin again?

At the time of repentance one forswears sin altogether. One can foresee that one would be weak and fall again but the attitude that falling is OK since I can repent again, this attitude precludes true repentance.

There are no hard and fast rules. Solzhenitsyn was committed to writing his books. He felt that he owed it to his follow-zeks, that the truth about Communists be exposed to the entire world. Thus he was willing to connive in the cheating.

Pls note that he disregarded the legitimacy of the entire communist system. Thus cheating taking place in a communist school was not morally crucial to him.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gyan - Sin is to be orientated away from God - to repent is to turn to God. This can happen any number of times.

Observable Christian behaviour is not necessarily any better than that of others and may be worse (the observable behavior of the rich is usually much better than that of the poor, but the poor are more likely to attain salvation - I mean the poor in a Biblical sense in which there is almost nobody poor in the UK or the US).

Gyan said...

"the poor are more likely to attain salvation"

These assertions are problematic. We do not know the likelihood of salvation at all. As CS Lewis says, the Dominical sayings on these matters are directed to the will and not to the intellect.