“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, “your word is your bond”, “pretty is as pretty does” and “always tell the truth, you must be honest in all you do”, were all sayings that I grew up with and that my parents repeated over and over again year after year. Telling the truth was among the more serious of them and was supported with the statement that they would be our advocates, and protectors but we had to tell them the truth first and foremost. They always wanted to be able to believe whatever we told them. My husband and I said the same thing to our sons as they grew up. They knew that one of the worse things they could do was to lie, not just to us, but to their friends, as varsity athletes in which cheating is a form of lying, and in their professional/business interactions.
American politics has never been honest beyond reproach, but as a nation, we have lived over the past 4 years with the most egregious example of lying and the failure to tell the truth by the leader of our nation and other political leadership. In fact, they have made lying an art form. It is so bad, that unless one follows the news and political deliberations as closely as I have, it would be very easy to lose track of what has been said, and what of it is true or false. We have watched the leader of the free world tell over 20,000 lies over the last 4 years and if that is not stunning enough, there are 70 million people who have turned a deft ear to the lies, don’t care, and even believe them. Our civil society has been degraded on both sides of the political aisle and such behavior has destroyed the dignity and integrity of our nation within the world; and degraded our daily experiences as citizens. Women, and people of color have been unique victims of untruths told, but in fact, everyone has been a victim.
We must talk to our children with an articulate aggression and consistency that lets them know how important their honesty and integrity is to us-that lets them know that the truth means everything. That a society that tramples on the truth and allows members of that society to do so is not sustainable; and is not the kind of community we want to live in. And as responsible adults begin to restore these norms at home, so will those norms need to be restored in the workplace, our community institutions, our schools. Leaders must hold fast to the need for honestly and truth as the key institutions of our society support those of our citizens most in need; and also, those not in great need. I am fortunate that I live in the northeast, in the relatively politically progressive city of Boston with big businesses, and institutions of higher education filled with lots of smart people. But it is clear, that the entire country is not that way. Those of us that desire a different world must continue to step up and speak up; to empower our local, state and new federal leadership to force the lies, untruths, and distortions back down beneath the manhole cover from which they emerged so destructively 4 years ago. Hopefully, that will allow the rest of us to bring truth and honesty back into our lives again.