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'Me First' attitude causing economic trouble

PROVO, Utah — Mormons who cheat on their taxes, cut in line and save rows of seats when others have no place to sit actually have a lot in common with Bernie Madoff and other high-profile swindlers.They're all contributing to the current economic woes the country is facing, according to a teacher at BYU's 2009 Campus Education Week."The common denominator is selfishness," Jay A. Parry said on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Parry is a former Ensign magazine editor and freelance writer. "If you're in the 'Me First' attitude, you feel no need to listen (to the prophets) because you believe you're special and entitled," he said. "Selfishness leads to greed, which leads to dishonesty and coveting."He listed many of the elements of "The Perfect Storm" of the economy today — the real estate bubble burst, the stock market drop, major banks on the verge of bankruptcy, credit markets frozen, the surge in layoffs and $8 trillion in bailouts."The economy has fallen off a cliff," he said, adding that the billions lost to corporate fraud "really hurt" what was already a fragile economy.Parry said no LDS person should really be surprised because the prophets and the scriptures have warned about "stormy weather ahead" for years.The plagues of today are indeed greed, cruelty, indulgence, selfishness and indulgence, he said, referring to a recent talk by President Thomas S. Monson."We shouldn't be surprised," he reiterated, listing examples of the "Me First" age that include: self-focus and "look at me!" social networks like Facebook and Twitter, tattoos and piercings, reality shows, lack of civility and road rage that escalates to serious injury and deaths.Rude and hostile online comments are earmarks of the "Me First" age, he said, when it seems it's better to be right than polite.Even in the church, there are incidents of people lying to go to the temple or on missions or falsifying home teaching reports.When men are lovers of self, they cease to care about others and their feelings and needs, he said.Society then breaks down.Parry said statistics show 95 percent of high school students confess to cheating.Thirty percent say they have stolen something, while 80 percent say they have lied about something significant to their parents. Sixty percent said people have to cheat to succeed in life — and Americans cheat the government our of $353 billion in taxes each year.Parry said while his topic is one of bad news and discouraging statistics, he doesn't want his audience to lose all hope.He advised his audience to remember why we are here on Earth, be strictly honest, avoid focusing too much on self and be courteous in all aspects of daily life."The Lord says, 'I will rebuke the devourer,'" Parry said."Our Savior is thoroughly mindful of the conditions of this world. The Lord loves us and he will give us peace in troubled times."