Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 22, 2007

By Adnan Quadri

In the modern world of 2007 fighting temptations is something that gets harder everyday. You see your best friend's boyfriend /girlfriend having what appears to be a romantic conversation or dinner with a stranger. Do you tell your friend what you have seen?

As you leave a big supermarket, you realize that the cashier has given you too much change. Do you just keep walking or return and give the money back?

You are applying for a job but do not have the exact qualifications. Do you embellish your resume knowing that you can quickly learn the skill if you get the job thinking no one will ever know the difference?

Sooner or later we all encounter situations like these. Would we do the right thing? And if so why? To find out we carried out a survey in schools and universities. The results are not a scientific barometer of our virtue, but an exercise in self assessment.

A whooping 88 percent of the respondents, for example, would return the extra change to the unfortunate supermarket cashier. A 22 year old woman who was given TK50 too much change when buying a plain cake summed up the general feeling: “If it is not your money, it isn't for you to take.”

But the line between right and wrong isn't always clear. Many respondents were like this 21 year old male: “I normally wouldn't, but if my parents were with me I would be forced to do otherwise their lecturing would force me to.”

A lady in her twenties also qualified her response, “If I am with my little sister, I would take the money back, but if I am alone I would most definitely keep it!”

One 20 year old male said he wouldn't return the money but would give it to a beggar. Generally, respondents were more akin to a 19-year-old female who said, “I believe what goes around comes around. Something worse might happen to me.”

The karmic cycle also comes into play when respondents were asked: If you found a wallet with TK 2000 inside as well as an address and phone number, would you return it to the owner? A young student who is also a teacher said he'd send the wallet and ID back but keep the money to himself as a “reward”. And, unlike the 69% of the respondents who said they'd return the money and wallet a 23 year old student said “Unless my conscience had a sudden awakening, only then would I return the wallet, but I would have made sure I kept the money for myself”.

Some of our dashing, sizzling female respondents advised: “I'd return the wallet, you never know, you might make a rich new friend”.

One question stopped many respondents in their tracks: Would you oblige to tell your best friend if you discovered his/her boyfriend/girlfriend having what it appears to be a romantic conversation or dinner with a stranger? Less than half said they would before launching into their own tales of woe! A 19 year old female saw her best friend having dinner and more with another woman, and was torn apart about what to do because she was friends with both partners. “If I do nothing, I feel guilty and if I tell, I still end up feeling guilty. My conscience is killing me!”

While many respondents stated “it is none of my business”, some stated, “When I'm having an affair, I don't want someone telling my partner about it either, right?”

One of the respondents had to face trouble for telling the truth; “I did this once”, said a 22 year old man, “and my friend turned his back on me for telling, instead of his unfaithful girlfriend.” Whereas another 22 year old female said: “If they don't trust each other to go out for a dinner with a friend, then there isn't much point staying together."

Bill Gates wouldn't be at all surprised that we discovered young men and women are the largest users of illegal software, but he might be interested in hearing that 63% of our respondents are less likely to use illegal software. With growing computer intellectuals in our country, people are getting familiar with cyber crimes. “I feel strongly about piracy,” said a young computer engineer, still studying in a private university, “It is ruining the market.” The message is also getting through to consumers. Many respondents say they wouldn't use illegal software because of the possibility of viruses or getting trapped by hackers. Price and perceived profits still encourages over half of us to use pirated copies. “I would rather use it because Microsoft is practically robbing us” reasoned an 18 year old. “If they weren't, Bill Gates wouldn't be the richest man in the world.”

Microsoft even crept into the answers about embellishing a résumé to land a job. “I just went for an interview for a job that required Microsoft Excel” said a woman in her 20s. “I told the interviewers that I didn't know how to use the program but that I was a quick learner. I got the job”. She is one of the 80% of the respondents who felt it wasn't right to lie even a little on the résumé.

A young student in a government university bucked the honest trend to say that he'd give his résumé a slight tweak if needed. “Say my English is not at all that good. I would write down something like 'fairly proficient'.” But an engineer in a private University summed up the question - and probably the whole test. “No! It's better to be honest from the start”.

We are not that bad at fighting “temptations” but as we are human, we always hope to grow better. As Simon Weil said, “At the bottom of the heart of every human being from earliest infancy until the tomb, there is something that goes on indomitably expecting in the teeth of all crimes committed, suffered and witnessed - that good and not evil will be done to him. It is this above all that is sacred in every human being.”

May God bless us!



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