I am often amazed by the simplistic thinking that goes into what some apparently believe to be "deep thoughts." In the signature line of this reply on Slashdot I found the following:
In free countries, how did the powerful become powerful? Have they done something you couldn't do?
To which I reply: Often they have done something (or a series of things) that most people wouldn't do, and that many believe one shouldn't do. It is rarely ever a simple matter of the ones with the power having been the ones who were merely more capable. Free countries still have social norms, standard ethical codes, and even laws that a few choose to ignore. That those few who choose to ignore the norms, codes, and laws sometimes gain power is not an excuse for the rest of us to ignore them as well. An "every man for himself" culture often sounds great until that "every man" happens to be someone who is willing or able to take from you to get what they want.
Update: 7/28/09 - I had a nice exchange of messages with the user of the signature and, as it turns out, he/she was attempting to spur others to think how they could work to become more powerful. He/she had no intention of encouraging others to cheat in order to gain power. So we discussed possible alternatives and he/she settled on "In free countries, how did the powerful become powerful? Have they done something you couldn't do (honorably)?" It may not be perfect but it does prevent him/her from appearing to condone cheating to get ahead. Kudos to him/her for encouraging others to improve their lives.
The content of this post is Copyright © 2009 by Grant Sheridan Robertson.