Lessons in Etiquette

Q) I’m falling behind in my English Lit class, and found a number of sources online where I can buy term papers.  Is it okay to do this to help me out in a bind?


A) I think you probably already know the answer to your question, and it is a definite NO.  Not only could you get caught and face a failing grade, suspension, or even expulsion, but more importantly, you are not learning anything.

Honest behavior is not what you do, it is who you are and part of your moral composition.  It affects every aspect of your life and of those around you.  Whether you live at home with your parents or are out on your own in the workforce, your ethical principles will have a profound effect everywhere you go.

Let’s take it a step further than your term paper.  For example, you are living at home with your parents while attending college.  They co-signed the loan for your new SUV.  You are working part-time, but only earning enough to make your car payments with a little left over for spending money.  Your friends have decided to spend Spring Break on a Caribbean cruise.  You can’t afford to go along without skipping a car payment, so you do just that and join them on the trip.  Now, your parents are left with your car payment.  Then, your father is suddenly laid off from work, and he cannot afford the mortgage and his own car payment, let alone yours.  So, his credit rating takes a hit and your car payments fall behind, along with everything else, racking up late fees. 

Every decision you make and action you take has consequences.  Say you are now 20 years older, and have risen through the ranks to run a large computer software company as its CEO.  Your new accounting software package is selling like hot cakes, and your company is climbing the Fortune 500 list.  But, you get greedy and decide you want to live in a mansion and have your own private jet.  To do this, you find a way to defraud your company of large sums of money with illegal bookkeeping practices.  Fast forward a year or so, and the government finds out about it.  You are not only facing jail time and the destruction of your own life and family, but you are putting hundreds of your employees out of a job and wiping out their retirement savings, not to mention destroying their lives and families. 

This may sound a little extreme, but it has happened.  It all boils down to a person’s ethics and integrity.  Proper etiquette involves more than using the right fork.  It encompasses practicing gentility, refined actions, respect, empathy and honesty, not unlike following the Golden Rule.  So, before you take the easy way out, think about the consequences.  I’m certain you will do the right thing.


Follow Carolyn Davenport at AGraciousYou.com