The Worth of Your Values

Not long ago I was sitting in my favorite local cigar shop when (somehow) the conversation of prostitution came up. The group discussing the topic was a mix of men and women ages mid-thirties through mid-fifties. In general the outlooks toward prostitution ranged from, “I don’t know how anyone can perform sex acts for money,” to “If they’re enjoying their work and are safe, more power to them.” The legality of the profession was discussed very briefly and mostly revolved around how different states or locales treat prostitution differently. That conversation devolved into a discussion about how states just like tax dollars. Where the conversation got interesting was when someone mentioned compromising morals for money.

If one accepted that prostitution, or selling one’s body for a certain amount of dollars, is immoral (and I’m not saying it is) AND if one accepts extra-marital (any sex outside of marriage) as immoral, then it follows that a prostitute is performing an immoral act for profit. The conversation then went on to focus on performing ANY immoral act in the name of profit. For some in the conversation, the focus was on how much money was being paid. One gentleman put a price tag of $1M on his willingness to perform a given act. Another man said, “Nope. Not for all the money in the world.”  One of the ladies asked the first gentleman, “Well, if you’d do that for a million, what about for $500 thousand?” Her point was that we’d already determined he was willing to sell his morals – and now we were just haggling price. He said that he wouldn’t do it for anything less than a million. His rational? He had to get paid enough to alter his life’s circumstance for the better; to pay off 100% of his debt and be able to retire. He had chosen $1M as that number and anything less wasn’t worth compromising himself for.

It occurred to me that this same outlook could be applied to business management, military operations and more. In fact, it can be applied to virtually every aspect of your life wherein you are called upon to choose between profit or staying true to your values. And I offer this very harsh and judgmental statement (acknowledging that it is such): If you are willing to commit immoral acts or compromise your values in the name of profit, you’re a whore. You may not be selling your body for money. You may not be performing sexual acts or committing adultery. But if you’re compromising your values for profit then you are, in essence, selling off a piece of yourself. Because rest assured, once you sell that piece, you’re never getting it back. And the person or entity you sold it too is now very aware that you are willing to sell yourself… your values… and they will milk you for every bit of value they can get. In other words, their goal then becomes to give you as little money as possible to get you to give up as much of yourself as is possible.

Talk about a slippery slope; someone has pushed you to compromise your values or sell a piece of yourself or some action you have to commit for money… Is it any wonder that they’ll push you to do the same thing over and over and try to pay you less each time? I would encourage every reader to very carefully consider their actions in this regard.

Then there are those doing the buying; those who try to purchase your compliance or immoral performance. THEY are the folks who have demonstrated no moral compunction about sacrificing values to generate profit. They will completely abuse you if you permit it. They will push you to do more and more without giving you any extra compensation and they don’t care how it affects your health, your mental wellness, your emotional stability, your family or any other aspect of your life. All that matters to them is taking more from you in the name of gaining more for themselves.

Some of those people will excuse their behavior by saying, “But it’s my job.” Well, a paid assassin kills for money – are they okay with that? Mercenaries fight and kill for whoever pays them – are they okay with that? Even more important, are they okay with the people who pay assassins and mercenaries to commit evil acts? It’s an interesting philosophical discussion to ask, “Who is worse? The prostitute who commits a sexual act for money or the person paying her to do so?”

We don’t hate the innocent for being seduced but we crucify the seducer. Who is more morally corrupt then? The person paying you to compromise your morals and values or you for doing so? I submit that both are equally complicit and would encourage all reading this therefore NOT to compromise their values for profit. Further, I would encourage you not to stand by and say/do nothing while others compromise their values or try to force others to do so.

Consider this carefully: If you know of an abusive spouse, employer, criminal, “friend,” etc., you have a duty to call them out and resist their abusive actions. You have the additional duty to protect others from those same actions. I would submit to you that those who commit the abuse of coercing others to compromise their values, whether for profit or not, are knowingly evil. And having accepted that, I’ll end with this:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -John Stuart Mill paraphrased.

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