Dishonesty was on display in a big way in 2012:
Cheating is nothing new. But the steady stream of famous faces and institutions that got caught up in it this year seems unprecedented — 2012 may well have been the Year of the Cheater.
Lance Armstrong. David Petraeus. Goldman Sachs. Harvard University. The Air Force Academy. Olympic athletes. From doping in sports to cooking the books, test-taking schemes and extramarital affairs, the list of very public examples goes on and on. And Americans hardly even seem shocked anymore. ...That "has a snowball effect," he adds. "It legitimizes further dishonest behavior." ...
The scandals of the past year illustrate a clear change in how we view misconduct. Those who study cheating say a confluence of factors has led to it becoming more pervasive and more socially acceptable: Technology makes it easier to cheat, and an increasingly competitive social environment — from grade school through college and into the workplace — makes us feel more pressure to do so. Increased exposure to cheating, either through news reports or personal knowledge, makes it seem as if everyone is doing it, say behavioral researchers. ...
"As we see things happening around us that give us a sense that other people are dishonest, it is easier for us to be dishonest as well," says Ariely, author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves. ... "People have redefined what constitutes cheating in line with the technologies available now," says McCabe, co-author of Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do about It. ... And people can adjust their moral compasses to fit their unethical behavior, says Lisa Shu, a visiting assistant professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. ...
"If everyone is doing it, it's then seen as what you do, and there is no big issue of morality," says Albert Bandura, a professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University in CA. "It gets at the root of why good people are doing it and not feeling bad about it."
With each passing year (nay, each passing day!), we are becoming increasingly more desensitized to all manner of immorality. We have grown thick calluses on our individual and collective conscience, turning a deaf ear and a hardened heart toward the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Physical calluses are a good thing. They are the body's mechanism for protecting us from something that would otherwise rub us the wrong way. Spiritual calluses, however, work in just the opposite way--instead of protecting us, they rob us of the sensation of what should rub us the wrong way, effectively blocking us from the conviction of sin. This loss of conviction explains "why good people are doing it and not feeling bad about it."
If 2012 was The Year of the Cheater, let's resolve to make 2013 The Year of Conscience, filing away the calluses which have hardened our hearts, and committing ourselves to being sensitive to the rubbing of the Holy Spirit.
"Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Ephesians 4:19).