All or nothing

What do cheating on a test, washing your hands and a donkey have in common?

They all involve some element of half-assery.

I’ll try not to be too crass, but how else do you describe actions that don’t involve a level of care without using overly academic language like incompetent, haphazard or uncaring?

You don’t because that would probably sugar-coat it.

For some reason or another, people all over the world seem to ignore the very examples of complacency that seem more and more indicative of a decline in quality in just about everything, ranging from academics to social graces.

“In an age that is utterly corrupt, the best policy is to do as others do,” was said by radical aristocrat and hedonist the Marquis de Sade. It seems that everyone has taken his words to heart, as half-assery tends to appear everywhere you look.

Cheating on tests and assignments is essentially still a common practice, even with an emphasis on avoiding academic dishonesty. A 2006 study indicated that 53 per cent of Canadian university students had cheated in some form of written work.

While this behaviour may be completely reasonable for those that succeed and make it into the workforce, would you honestly want to be treated by a person who made it through medical school by cheating? It’s like shaking hands with a person who just left the toilet without bothering to wash their hands.

The American Society of Microbiology found through surveys that anywhere from 25 per cent to 42 per cent of individuals don’t wash their hands when using the washroom.

This entails the lesson for those who choose the path of mediocrity. We shouldn’t aim lower than perfection — we shouldn’t just give up and say “Oh I’m going to die in x number of years therefore I shouldn’t give a crap about anything as long as I get by.”

We need to take the high road in life, even though working without cheating and doing things by the book can be hard and time-consuming — because, like washing one’s hands after using the washroom, it’s the right thing to do and ultimately worth the effort.

Terence Wong is the Opinions Editor at the Journal.

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