Have you noticed?
Honesty, that great American virtue as venerable as Washington’s cherry tree and Honest Abe Lincoln, has nearly disappeared from these shores. Those of us old enough to remember its heyday might wonder where it went.
Gee, I can remember when a promise was a promise. When a man’s word was his bond, and folks could be counted on to do what they said they would do.
If you’re over 50, you remember, too.
Nowadays, we’re bombarded with empty promises and obfuscations.
Lies, we used to call them.
During an election cycle, which is pretty much all the time now, you can actually go for weeks without hearing a true word spoken.
Don’t you ever wonder what Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and all the founding gang would say about our current crop of presumably intelligent candidates for the office of US president saying only what they think you want to hear?
Tax cuts! New services! Health care and Hummers for all! Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.
Recently, a covey of presidential candidates each looked us right in the camera lens and, with straight face, stern voice, and without a hint of irony, declared that in the name of national security he was for more torture, more money for the military/industrial complex, and more sliming of our Constitution than his opponents.
They can’t truly believe that, can they? But that’s what they must think we want to hear. As old Ben Franklin might say, “Hey, at least freedom of speech is working!”
Of Charlatans and Bamboozles
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this,” Carl Sagan declared, “If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
Well, folks, if you haven’t noticed, the charlatans are running the show. They’ve got their batteries charged and the cattle prods at the ready! These “leaders” are ready to follow you and me off the end of the earth if that’s where they think we want to go.
They’ll do anything for us but tell the truth.
You’ll find this hard to swallow if you’re under age 50, but I’m old enough to remember when we believed everything our government told us. Today, when government speaks, we yawn. Or laugh. Or mostly, we ignore. During and right after World War II, none of that happened.
Not that skepticism isn’t essential to democracy. But ignoring the political system altogether, as half of us do every election, is cynical and self-defeating.
Unfortunately, glib runs so deep in America that today we don’t even trust one another, our neighbors, or those with whom we do business. We’ve lost something important in this country, robust connection with one another. In a land of no true connections, credibility is impossible and promises cheap.
It’s time we insist that honesty and trust return to our shores, our lives, and our political thought.
We must tell those who would lead us that we’re on to them. That we’d like our country to stand, not for torture, but for social justice and fairness for all. Not for empire, but for peace, equality, and economic justice in the world. And not for distrust and division, but for harmony and love of one another.
Just as we were all taught in Sunday school, it all starts with the truth.
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