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“You’re a cheat!” When I was a kid, no one wanted to hear those words. People knew that it was wrong to cheat. Of course some kids did when I was in school, but certainly it was far less prevalent than it is today. Many values were more clear-cut in the 1950’s and early 60’s.

When my kids were in high school at the turn of the millennium, lots of kids cheated. One of my oldest daughter’s friends did it regularly and got great grades and got into a good university. (So did my daughter without cheating.) I don’t know how she got away with it, unless the other people she copied didn’t care. I was amazed at the time but my kids informed me that lots of kids did it. Welcome to the new age, mom!

Hey, now we’ve even upped the ante. Cheating is a way of life. Our politicians, admired athletes, celebrities, and even “normal” people cheat and lie, so what’s wrong with it? Hillary lied directly to the grieving families of the people who died in Benghazi — knowing what really happened — cheating them of the truth and closure. What are kids supposed to think when lying and cheating goes on so frequently in society? They emulate what they see, more than what they are told.

We have politicians whose lies have been documented — and a presidential candidate who’s just gotten wealthier and more successful despite her questionable behavior. So many of the role models for children cheat, lie, and behave badly. Who cares? It’s just fodder for TV programs and tabloid newspapers.

Cheating is not just deceiving others, it’s depriving the cheater of life lessons that need to be learned to develop into a responsible and balanced human being. Life lived cheating is a lie, and the line between reality and “fantasy” blurs until one’s self becomes confused and indistinct. Who am I? What do I stand for? What do I want for my children and for society? I want the truth, sometimes plain and unvarnished, sometimes refreshing and clear, leaving me in no doubt about who other people are, too.