As Rafiki so wisely confirmed in The Lion King, what already happened cannot be changed. If only that mantra could be implemented with more ease! At the naïve age of eighteen, my experiences have taught me that people who lie succeed; people who cheat score higher in school; people who dismiss morality find popularity more easily.
Take, for instance, debate: As I enter the fluorescently lighted classroom. My partner begins organizing the evidence as the debate begins, and my opponents begin give their first speech. As I listen eagerly, my mind swirls with confusion: I know what my opponents are saying is true, but if I want to win, I must convincingly affirm my side of the resolution. As I stand to deliver my speech, I can already see how easy it would be to lie about evidence, breaking my opponents’ arguments to rubble. But I don’t. A part of me says it isn’t right. So I say what I had prepared, still confused by which side of this debate I truly support. I’m a fencer straddler, if you will. I was once told a story about fence straddlers: He who stays on the sides of the street is safe, but he who remains undecided and stands in the street is hit by the oncoming bus. Ouch.
Suddenly, my opponents give the last speech. The room grows evermore silent as everyone anticipates the end of this debate. He speaks, basically asserting how my partner and I disregarded his team’s entire case of argumentation. “Unethical,” I grumble to my partner. He just lied. If we disregarded his case, what were we debating for the past forty-five minutes? He ends by stating how my partner and I brought up no evidence. Another lie. But it sounded good. And apparently, that’s all that mattered. A few hours later, when I discover that I am not advancing to the quarterfinal round, I realize that the judge voted for the other team during that round. She liked the last speech. The speech of lies. And they won.
I stand alone in my anger; I did the right thing by being ethical, but I lost. It must have been worth it; if it wasn’t, then I am more lost than I know. But I know who I am, and I have embraced it! I am failing loser who selfishly cares about more about myself than the pleasure of others. But, these other people, these liars, do not really exist. Yes, that is the sad truth. I believe, I truly maintain, that existence is defined by character and experience. People who lie are, but they will never be, since their memory will not find any respectable place in the lives of others.
And so, I walk down the middle of the street, cautiously avoiding the cars, while musing at the people walking in safety on the sidewalks. Cheaters. And while they laugh as the bus hits me, I smile; Despite the difficult journey, I’m going somewhere.