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IS IT WORTH IT?

19 Feb 2020 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

In life, there are certain absolute necessities that we must have like food, water, shelter for starters and nobody will ask if it were worth it. It is just something we need to have to stay alive. The difference is what, why and how. Do I drink tap or bottled water and in both instances the element of choice poses the question “is it worth it?” Do I eat food from a small boutique or a 5-star hotel; “Is it worth it?” These are really unimportant issues. There are bigger pictures that ask “Is it worth it?” When people go to mind-boggling lengths to do better than others and invariably end up in prison, and in some cases, even lose their lives in the interminable race to do better, be bigger, have more than others; is it really worth it?   

It is sad to see decent people who were leading respectable lives get dumped into prison for swindling astronomical amounts of money on various deals. Their names are mud, nobody looks at them, no one cares to which prison they are sent, for how long they are sentenced, how they are going to survive a prison sentence, no one asks, is there anything we can do as friends? Nobody cares, nobody gives a damn! And the burning question – Is it worth it? The money is not yours; you lose your respectability, your place in society, the money is not yours, not only you but your family name is tarnished too; is it worth it? What are you actually going to prison for? How much happiness or enjoyment did that swindling actually bring you? Were you able to use the money you swindled and how? The question – Is it worth it? Other reasons why many people cheat include a culture that condones cheating/stealing, a personal history of dishonest behaviour, stealing to benefit others (another form of rationalization) and a lack of supervision or control (“if they don’t even care enough to lock their bike, then it’s okay to steal it”). 

How can we prevent such bad behaviour that seems all too common in the general order of things? Ariely’s research has some answers. First, priming people for honesty seems to help. For instance, participants who were reminded of an honour code or who reviewed the 10 commandments cheated or stole less. In addition, having people sign at the top of a self-disclosure form (“I certify that everything below is true”) increases honesty as opposed to having them sign at the bottom (“I certify that everything above is true”). 

It is sad to see decent people who were leading respectable lives get dumped into prison for swindling astronomical amounts of money on various deals

This suggests something that I have believed all along: people need to be educated about ethics and honesty. People need to be reminded of the virtue of honesty and constantly encouraged. The importance of honesty, integrity and good character must be emphasised by parents, teachers and leaders. As it is, most people find it all too easy to engage in a little lying, cheating or stealing, and simply rationalise their bad behaviour. Constant reminders and positive role models should help. There is yet another reason we can ask if it were worth it. As author Jean Clervil says and I quote: 

“Throughout life, we all experience pain. Most commonly it stems from not being where we think we should. Not feeling as though we have progressed in our career after so many failed attempts stings the most. We all want the benefits of success, but we have to be willing to pay the cost. Pursuing your dream is a praiseworthy endeavour, but is it worth the heartache that comes with trying to achieve it? What matters most to you and spurs you to keep going wholeheartedly, however long it takes? Rather than ignore the pain or be overwhelmed by it, discover how to make room for it so you can press on to fulfil your purpose as you grow into a person who not only dreams but achieves. If you can’t move that mountain, climb it – you may be closer to summiting than you think.” 

The ‘Journal of Pragmatics’ says lying, stealing and cheating are the only concepts that share membership in a specialised semantic category which has a specific set of prototypical features that separate them from other kinds of misdeeds. Findings show that lying, cheating and stealing can be reduced to similar weighted semantic features and that in testing the relevance of these primitives, we find experimental results that reveal lying, cheating and stealing have parallel prototype effects establishing the same kind of gradient membership in all three concepts. 

We all want the benefits of success, but we have to be willing to pay the cost. Pursuing your dream is a praiseworthy endeavour, but is it worth the heartache that comes with trying to achieve it? What matters most to you and spurs you to keep going wholeheartedly, however long it takes?

It is this scalar membership that leads to the mismatch between speakers’ definitions of the concepts and their application of the categories to actual examples of lying, cheating and stealing. The second purpose of this study is the development of category models that take into account the gradient membership and variability of concept use as well as culturally inspired ideas about what lying, cheating and stealing entail. The ultimate goal of that project was to discover the greater implications category structures by constructing a mega model that only includes the concepts lying, cheating and stealing and accounts for their exclusive membership in a larger concept field. 

THE VOICE

 

 

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