So there we are
Openness is the mantra of modern America. As individuals, we like everything open and above the table, so we say, “Honesty is the best policy.” I’m not certain, I’m no student of Constitutional Law, but I think our form of government is rooted squarely upon transparency. As citizens of the United States, we should know exactly what the government is doing.
I don’t know what the government is doing and I don’t think you know either, so there we are. It goes to reason that if we don’t know what the government is doing, how will we know if it does something wrong? I think the answer is that we expect the government to govern itself. Somehow, I don’t think that will work out — it is simply not gonna happen.
Again, ‘Openness is the mantra of modern America.” To most of us, keeping ugly little secrets has become synonymous with repression and shame. You’ll have to agree that I am correct in this assumption. A guy named Isak Dinesen, a Danish author, wrote in 1957, “In the mind and nature of a man a secret is an ugly thing, like a hidden physical defect.” See, he agrees with me!
So far, we have established the facts that governments should be open and transparent, and that secrets are not a good thing. When I was a kid, I was told that there are good people and bad people, and it was easy to see which was which. The good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. Children are pretty simple people and they usually believe what their parents tell them.
OK, say your children ask you about the bombing of a children’s daycare in Oklahoma. Be calm, be honest and be careful, for the way you respond will affect your children more than all the images they see. Young children, who think in terms of right and wrong, also need to believe the bad guys will be caught. Young children don’t perceive tragedies the same way adults do. They can’t associate the difference between one daycare and another, and how what happens to one will happen to them as well. They don’t think that way.
So what do we do? The answer is that most often, we tell them what they want to hear and we keep the truth a secret. Sit back and think for a moment — how many times have you reached this very scenario with your children and how many secrets do you keep from them? Now, replace the parent with the government and the children with you, yourself. How many dark little secrets has the government kept from us? I suspect there are many.
To me, it looks as if our government couldn’t give a shit what we citizens think about what it’s doing. To me, it looks as if the government can do whatever it wants to do and it thinks we don’t even need to know. Pertinent information is withheld for the safety of the state. I think that’s a load of bullshit, but there’s nothing I can do about it, right?
So, if I think like that, why am I even bringing the subject up? Well, I think we think too highly of ourselves as individuals. It is often said that we cannot love others until we love ourselves. If this is true, how can we, as Americans, be so bold as to believe that we love ourselves as a group, a nation? As a nation, we are the government, and the actions the government takes are the same as our actions.
As individuals. we wouldn’t go to war with our neighbor until we have proven him guilty of some wrongdoing, would we? Then why do we do it as a group, a nation? We assume the government is not deceiving us when we know that they are. Secrets and lies are easy for us to spot. It is in our nature to know what truth is.
So there we are. What do we say when our children ask about wars? What do we say when they put on our uniforms of battle? I’ll tell you right now, as I repeat:
Be calm, be honest and be careful, for the way you respond will affect your children more than all the images they see. Young children, who think in terms of right and wrong, also need to believe the bad guys will be caught. Young children don’t perceive tragedies such as wars the same way adults do. They can’t associate the difference between a good war and a bad war.
Those who keep secrets that are bad for a nation do not feel that we as adults can handle the truth, for like our children, most of us think in terms of right and wrong. However, unlike our children, we have pretty much given up on the idea that the bad guys will ever be caught.
So there we are. So there we are.