3/23/2008

Ethical Dilemma

I know it's been a while. I've been super busy. Which is good.
At the same time, I have not really missed blogging all that much. For whatever reasons.

Something happened today, however, that I simply much get off my chest.

I got a translation job on Thursday. It's a 20 page series of documents. Suffice it to say, that after completing about 60% of this job (I get paid by the word), I noticed that the documents had been tampered with. Dates had been changed in a manner that works out to the bearer's advantage (I cannot go into any more detail). I know this to be the case because some dates were in a slightly different font, and, more incriminating, the documents contained records of purchases in Israel when the VAT rate was 18%, well before the dates on the documents.

To make a long story short, I told my client (who is not the perpetrator of the fraud, and in fact is at least 2 degrees separated from the tamperer) that I could not, in good conscience, participate in this. I had spent the whole freaking day working on this project, which would have earned a decent chunk of change (but it this way - 2 or 3 projects like this every week, and I'm making a very good living by Israeli standards). My readers know that I have struggled to make a living in this country. Forfeiting this job, and possibly this client, was one of the hardest things that I have done in a very long time.

I was not concerned about getting into legal trouble. A disclaimer (i.e. "I'm translating the document, not vouching for its authenticity", or some such) takes care of that. I could easily find a halakhic loophole as well (I do not want to get into it because it would necessitate revealing too many details of the case). It's just the wrong thing to do. It's unethical to be involved with fraud. End of story.

At a different stage in my life, I would have taken solace in the fact that God would somehow pay me back, right here in this world, for my behavior. I don't think like that anymore. I tend to think, rather, that "No good deed goes unpunished." So where's the comfort? I spent a whole day working on a project, and ignoring my kids who, like me, had the day off.

I wish to make it perfectly clear that this decision has not given me some type of inner peace. I do not feel good for having "done the right thing." If anything, it has made me very agitated. I wasted a day and pissed away about $350. And I am not blessed with the gift of absolute certainty that, in this case, would at least have granted me the confidence that I am doing what is right in the eyes of God and man. No such luck.
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