This above all: to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day;
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
– William Shakespeare, ‘Hamlet,’ Act I, Scene iii
Surely this quote is remembered almost as often as any other by the Bard. “To thine own self be true.” Be honest with yourself, then you won’t have to worry about being honest with others.
Honesty used to be considered a virtue. In today’s world that is dominated, controlled with a neck throttle, by industry, honesty qualifies as a characteristic of suckers according to the prevailing ethic of business and politics.
We know that President Bush and likely Prime Minister Blair were aware of more than one intelligence report clearly stating that Iraq had no known weapons of mass destruction when they moved their militaries into Iraq to take down Saddam, claiming that their primary purpose was to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. (That even defies logic. Would you attack a country you knew had such weapons that could wipe out any military unit that entered that country?)
Recently we have learned that Chinese sources of chemicals intentionally sent a supposedly safe chemical to the US containing toxic melamine that eventually poisoned many pets through prepared foods.
More recently reporters have revealed evidence that other Chinese chemical producers have sent a toxic substances to various countries of the world (mostly to poor countries such as Bangladesh, Argentina and Nigeria) to be used in those countries as food additives. The chemical was supposed to be plain, safe glycerin, but was actually a (mislabelled) component of anti-freeze.
In the recent past we have had giant corporations such as Enron and Worldcom destroyed by greedy industrial leaders who received humungous pay checks for posting false profit statements to drive up their stock prices, leaving multitudes of people bereft of the nest eggs they had saved for their retirements.
Divorce rates in most western countries where couples promised to love, honour and cherish, through good times and bad, have soared past fifty percent, reaching close to 66 percent in some countries. The only reason that the divorce rates have come down in a few countries is that fewer couples have been getting married, preferring instead to cohabit, so they don’t fall within the divorce statistic.
Most young people, if they are even familiar with the word ‘virtue,’ couldn’t name more than a couple of the traditional ones. Following their role models on television and in the movies, many value sex until the fire goes out over finding lasting love with a soul mate with whom they stay for a lifetime of adventures.
Spend some time in civil court or watch some of the “judge” shows on TV to see how often the perpetrator makes the victim out as real the bad guy.
Meanwhile almost everyone laments the fact that you can’t trust anyone any more.
What went wrong and how did it go so wrong so fast? Some point out that the decline in popularity of honesty began when “God” was removed from the classroom (or when “prayer” was removed). This is partly valid.
One of the primary functions of religion is to teach values and morals (sometimes ethics as well) to the adults and children of their respective congregations. At the same time as anything related to religion was removed from schools, teaching of ethics and values was removed and the curriculum was expanded exponentially so that teachers have no time for non-curriculum matters such as morals and values in many schools.
If the first job of those responsible for the formal education of children is to prepare them for life as adults. If we want honesty and trust to return to our people, we must teach these values to everyone. To be certain that every child gets the same message, teachers should be given the responsibility for teaching the same lessons to every child.
The present system doesn’t work. Instead of crying and bitching about how bad things are in our communities, we need to start putting the responsibility for educating children uniformly and comprehensively into the hands of the people whose responsibility it is to teach children.
But doesn’t that include parents as well as teachers? Of course. We have the choice of either giving parenting lessons to new parents or adolescents about what their responsibilities will be to teach their kids or let the first batch of children who have received values and morals lessons grow to be parents themselves. Even that slipshod latter method would have everyone covered within a generation.
Doing nothing hasn’t worked. Leaving it to someone else to do the job for us hasn’t worked. Those who have done nothing have no right to point the finger of blame at others who have tried and may have failed.
If you want honesty, be honest yourself. Then show others by your example. And teach every child you know why it would be better to be honest than to be dishonest and untrustworthy.
When you can’t trust anyone, your life is set up to adopt fear as a way of coping. Fear is nothing but destructive.
Or our communities, our countries and our world will just get worse while we blame someone else for not doing their job.
Be honest with yourself. That’s what you really want.
Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make the ugly realities of life plain and easy to understand, and to give solutions where needed.
Learn more at http://billallin.com