Published on April 30, 2011 by Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., psychologytoday.com:
I worked in Africa when I was young, and often got stopped by the police as I zipped around on a United-Nations motorbike. They wouldn't say why they'd stopped me, and my gaze would settle on their machine gun in the awkward silence. What was up?
"Give them money," people told me. "Everybody does it."
I got the same answer no matter who I asked. But I couldn't do it. Something in me resisted digging into my pocket for Central African francs to grease the palms of gun-toting traffic cops, regardless of what everyone did.
When my mother warned me not to follow everyone off the Brooklyn Bridge, I thought she was ridiculous. Everyone doesn't jump off bridges, so why did she fuss? But suddenly I felt surrounded by people destined to end up at the bottom of the river.
Bribes were just the tip of the iceberg. I was in Africa to work on a UN economic planning project. The project was at a standstill because the country's dictator withheld financial data. He ran the national treasury out of his pocket and asking nosy questions could land you in jail or worse. I went to work every day in a building full of economists with no work to do.
I did not like being around people who think there's a "right to cheat" ... Read more>>