Ofall the insights I have received, the most comforting by far is t

he knowledge that we live in an ethical universe.

Only the good and the right survive and flourish; the rest languish by the wayside. Our national motto says as much: Satyamev Jayate ( only truth triumphs).

Perhaps you question my optimistic assertion. I donalt39t blame you. Today we live in such topsy- turvy times that most of us are led to the unhappy conclusion that it doesnalt39t pay to be ethical or scrupulous; that the race is won by she who opts for shortcuts.

Looking out for number one, trampling over others in order to win power, prestige or pelf, back- stabbing, treachery, bribery, corruption, crimes – all these have become so routine that it is often hard to question whether there is an option to them.

Kids today are clear that the most important goal in life is to be successful, by which they mean to have

money, fame, and status.

All this obscures the path and rewards of righteousness so much that even those of us who opt to lead our lives by an independent value system feel isolated and lonely, out of tune with societys dominant goals.

But if you were to examine my statement a little more closely, I think you will be convinced that there is an overwhelming pay- off to being valuebased.

The first mistake many of us make when we consider wrong- doing to be more powerful than goodness, is that we look at the short- term benefit and not the long – term one. In the short term, it pays to cheat in your exams or to fleece your customer. It also pays to manipulate your boss or bully your children.

But shift the focus to the long- term and what do you see? The one who cheated in his medical exams, is now practising, but alas, his indifferent knowledge of the profession seals his fate. Even his few patients dwindle away when his cures prove not just ineffective but positively dangerous.

For all we know, he ends up being sued for malpractice. His cheating may have helped him pass his exams, but it equally assisted his failure in life. Likewise, the grocer who shortchanges his customers will soon find his custom shifting to his rival.

Even when it comes to the dynamics of human relationships, manipulation and bullying may make things go in our favour for a few years, but it inevitably antagonises the opposite party and denies us access to their love and affection. And when they can get out of our control, you may be sure they stay out.

Looking at things from a long- term point of view always gives you a different picture. Take the recent dotcom bubble, for instance. Why did it burst so quickly? Because everyone involved in it was looking for shortterm gains.

No one was concerned with developing and grooming the medium.

They were only interested in making their profits and running.

That it would burst was a bygone conclusion, but it may not have done so had enough people been concerned about the Web and not their own advancement.

Another mistake we make when assessing the relative benefits of goodness and badness is that we look at externals and not internals. Externally, the smuggler, the thief, the balckmarketeer, the extortionist may seem to have it all, money, molls, and for all we know, happiness too. But the internal story is a radically opposite one. Any time we go against our conscience, a barrier falls between our soul and ourselves.

So subtle is the process that we are seldom aware of it, but gradually we

become insensitive, our feelings become muffled and our line of communication with our own self gets cut.

We cannot face ourselves, cannot be at peace with ourselves and therefore we seldom look within. We lead our lives with increasing frenzy, seeking desperately to escape ourselves. The very first casualty in any wrongdoing is o

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