This I Believe

David - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 19, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: integrity

My school is infamous for its cheating scandals. From the MTV special (when kids set up a website that, among its contents, contained vocabulary answers and an entire test) to the honor code (set up by the administration in an attempt to instill a sense of honesty into the school), this bastion of learning in the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Ahwatukee just cannot keep itself from a little bit of cheating.

People have asked me to write papers for them, sometimes for significant amounts of money (for me, anyway). I am sure I could do the work. It isn’t difficult, and sometimes I even already have papers written about the topic.

I have no fear of being caught, because they’re completely different classes. I’m isolated from the regular teachers through years of standardized tests, honors designations, and gifted classes, so there is little to no chance of being caught. And even if I was caught, I could call my parents, launching a domino effect of complaints to the administration, school board, and even the superintendent. No matter what happens, I’m sure I could get out of any trouble that arose from the situation. After all, the kids from the MTV cheating scandal got out of it, so why can’t I?

And yet, of all the values in which I could believe, I believe in integrity. It isn’t necessarily because it’s “the right thing to do”; after all, while that may be my belief, it doesn’t have to be the belief of someone else. Rather, I believe in integrity because it drives human achievement. By using unique ideas, technological development accelerates, as people think of new, exciting ideas rather than simple adaptations of the old ones.

Not only this, but if everyone has integrity, people are encouraged to create new ideas because they know they’ll receive credit for their ideas. They know that no one can just steal their innovations and pawn them off as their own. A sense of intellectual property is created, and in that environment of intellectual property, new ideas are encouraged rather than spurned.

With integrity, new ideas can flourish, rather than being stunted in their growth. That student that wanted to pay me for a paper must now think of their own ideas, and even if just one of those millions and millions of ideas spurs something original, then mankind will have advanced because of integrity.