From what I’ve observed in the here and now, Ben Franklin’s words about honesty being the best policy is no longer the policy of most people. I’m not just talking about media types and politicians where honesty is not only not a policy, it’s uncommon, but among average people. That’s a big problem.
If average people, who are the people who watch the media and vote for politicians are either no longer honest or don’t care about honesty, what have we become?
Once media allowed it’s bias to overcome their job of being the “watch dogs” for the public they became less important, less respected and ultimately part of the problem they should report but don’t.
There once were media people like Edward R. Murrow. People of integrity. People you could trust. Name a dozen in all of media that is true of today. You might need to use all your fingers to count them but doubtful you would have to take off your shoes and count on your toes.
I suspect that even back in Colonial Times many of the citizens didn’t believe their politicians all the time. Even though there were giants in that time there were undoubtedly mountebanks and liars. That’s just human nature.
A lot of their “media” was pamphleteers.
“From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century the pamphlet was the chief instrument to carry one’s ideas to the public…The pamphlet, forerunner to the newspaper, was well adapted to this use because it was small and cheap and could reach ‘a larger audience than the orator in the House of Commons.’”
More than 230 years ago, ordinary citizens across the colonies printed and distributed the passionate words of “amateur” writers to shape public opinion and galvanize the independence movement. Some were honest and trustworthy – others not so much. They were like our bloggers of today.
If honest, they provide a public service and give us a choice that the MSM does not. A choice and a chance to hear truth. Sadly this new tool to get the truth to the people is often colored by the opinion of those that report or blog about it. That too is human nature.
People tend to read those that reflect their own thoughts, likes, and opinions. People of integrity seek to read or hear from other people of integrity. They want the truth. Others? They want to hear or read what reinforces their own opinions or desires. Not a way to achieve honesty.
Many people say they don’t pay much attention to politics yet politics governs every aspect of their lives. Thus if they are not paying attention they aren’t aware of just how dishonest politicians have become. Maybe ignorance is bliss but it is dangerous bliss. Because not paying attention and just being a member of a tribe, Democrat or Republican, has led us to the corrupt country we live in today.
Honesty in politics is much like oxygen. The higher up you go, the scarcer it becomes.
The saddest part of the corruption of our government and ultimately our country is that so few seem to care. Many see the truth as whatever reinforces what they already believe. Therefore the dishonesty of many politicians is excused because of tribal loyalty.
“In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Evidently old Napoleon knew what he was talking about. Here we are 195 years after he died and nothing has changed.
If Napoleon heard about Hank Johnson of Georgia, a member of the United State House of Representatives, he would know his words were proven in the future and could simply say, ” Mais, bien sûr”.
Johnson, if you remember is famous, or infamous for saying of the island of Guam: “My fear is that uh the whole island will uh become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize”.
Lest you think it unfair to tarnish the congressman for one silly remark, here’s another: “There has been a steady…almost like termites can get into a residence and eat it up before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself.” He said that on July 25, 2016.
It has been said that “To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles”. Fortunately for most politicians that isn’t difficult as many started with none.
According to Mark Twain: “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other.”
Therein lies a problem. By the time information has passed through several hands, and minds, and mouths, what emerges isn’t the truth. Often it isn’t even close to the truth. Yet many people don’t care.
I hear the excuse that people just don’t have time in their busy lives to check on what is true or false. Time? Time enough to talk or text on their cell phone for hours. Time enough to play on-line games for hours. There is time to search the truth – there isn’t the will.
In a year when violence seems about to erupt at any moment I leave you with the words of Mahatma Ghandi: The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles.
And with this from Ghandi too: