At 57, I have spent much of my life feeling a little superior to others. I have never stolen anything. I am pained whenever I say something that is even close to a lie. I am dedicated to fairness. And so on. I have long considered myself to be a highly ethical person.
In recent years, though, not so much. I no longer feel compelled to tell the truth on my tax return if I think I won't get caught. I am less likely to stop for a stop sign in the middle of the night. I am willing to turn a deaf ear to a bill collector when I can't pay or even when competing priorities make me feel overburdened by the prospect.
What's happened is that I have come to realize that I am embedded in a culture that is so pervasively unfair, among powerful entities devoted to ripping me off, subject to laws that I not only disagree with but find counterproductive and stupid, often evil. Despite a cheerful attitude, reasonable skill and good work ethic, this society has not allowed me even minimal prosperity.
And so, I find myself increasingly set loose from the social contract. I consider the rules to be guidelines at best and only follow those that I, personally, agree with. Viewing the dysfunction of every system, I feel increasingly ruthless in my consideration of those in positions of power and how one should consider acting to improve society and ones own life.
Have I come completely unhinged ethically? Have I, despite generally doing good things, become a bad person? Is there a way to see oneself as a contributing member of a society that is largely despicable?