The Sunday Morning Sermon
In case you haven’t noticed, this is a political season in America and I have to tell you, I am a little fed up. I am so tired of half-truths, spin and outright lies I am starting to feel sick when I turn on the news. Truth has somewhere, somehow died a slow and painful death and I am pretty sure I missed the funeral. Through it all however, I believe most of the ugliness, pettiness and divisiveness would be gone tomorrow if we agreed not to support people who lie.
I am sure you heard the candidate who told us most in the illegal Hispanic population were rapists and drug dealers.
That statement was more than crude and in my 53 years I have heard crude. It was more than racist, because I believe the statement would have made Bull Conner blush. It was more than insensitive, because I can not fathom the kind of dinner table questions Hispanic moms and dads had to answer. It was decidedly more than unchristian but, not for the reason you might think. It was more than cringe-worthy, in a season with a pretty high cringe-quotient.
It was a lie.
When did we begin to honor dishonesty? When did we start giving little Johnny a cookie when he told a whopper? “I am so proud of Johnny. He is a natural born liar.” When did we begin rewarding little Suzy when she copied her homework answers? “We are so proud of Suzy. She cheated her way to Valedictorian.” Do they give you a medal at WestPoint now for lying? “For meritorious and capricious lying, the Congressional Medal of Dishonor goes to…” Has the story of George Washington and the cherry tree been erased from our national memory? “I am not sure little Georgie has a future in politics. He just can’t tell a lie.”
We still have a zero-tolerance policy on the fib at our house. Should we change that? Have you?
So, why on earth are we considering liars for public office… I am not sure considering is strong enough, how about seeking? Yup, instead of disagreeing with the other side, whatever that is, we want our politicians to turn the other side into fire-breathing, hell-bent bonafide monsters. So if public office means a suspension of reality, then I hereby nominate Aslan for President. Peter would make a good Supreme Court Justice while we are at it. I am sure Justice Scalia would be proud of our choice. Of course neither of them would make very good liars.
Do you think Aslan the lion would ever win a political election in this country?
I understand how useful hyperbole and exaggeration can be at times. Those devices are extremely useful in comedy and storytelling. Sometimes, exaggeration is useful in education to help define cause and effect. There is a place for things not exactly true especially when the speaker eventually tells us the truth and explains the why a lie was useful.
Have you heard such an explanation this political season? Is the fault in our stars or in ourselves?
I think we made it this way. We have rewarded fiery speakers who tell us lies about our ideological opposites for too long. We love people who think like us. We especially love those who demonize our “enemies.” That may be the crux of our problem. Somehow, our fellow citizens have become enemies. People who think differently must be stopped. We can no longer agree to disagree. We want our politicians to label our ideological enemies as unpatriotic, greedy, weak or evil. Those labels have become the talisman of a true believer. When merely saying it is so loses its effectiveness, we want them to use a religious interpretation, shoddy statistics, science-for-hire, stereotypes, prejudice… to prove our point. Any form of the lie is ok, if it leaves our ideological enemies in a figurative bloody pulp in the gutter.
Have you seen people this season in more than a figurative bloody pulp?
If we don’t mind a lie and actually encourage it, then what is next? I think all things are possible including moving from the figurative to the literal. In a democracy, we must agree to disagree from time to time. As we learned in kindergarten, things don’t always go exactly as we desire. Kick-the-can fans have to play in the sandbox from time to time and we don’t get to verbally or literally beat-up the sandbox voters. The kick-the-can voters can opt to play by themselves but, in a democracy, the game is set by the majority. A kindergartener knows outlawing all community games, because we didn’t like the vote, is not an option either. Somehow a five year-old knows telling lies about the sandboxers won’t change anything for the better. They instinctively know what we seem to have forgotten. Without the sandboxers, they won’t have enough kids to play kick-the can and some of the sandboxers make excellent kick-the-can players.