I really have to stop reading newspapers. It is not only depressing but it changes the whole karma of a lazy and beautiful summer in Colorado. Might do the same for you who are ensconced at the beach. Couldn’t the world use a little respite from arguing, killing, raping, pillaging and of course the time honored practice of corruption.
Corruption is nothing new and will probably exist for long past what you and I might consider a lifetime. The heydays of Sparta, Rome and Alexandria were great until the mire became too thick and drowned everyone. No more, no less. The monarchies and fiefdoms of the Middle Ages? Slam dunk to qualify for disaster. Robber barons and mafiosa in the early 1900’s? It’s part of our heritage. That doesn’t make it stink any less.
We have a world economy today which just exacerbates the situation. It has brought untold riches to petty thieves and operatives in outlying places. Tribesman in Afghanistan and Libya can hold sway over the distribution of oil and opium throughout the world. You don’t think these guys revel in the power given to them by the consumers of varying types of drugs? Think again.
I met the inspector general of the Health and Human Services of these United States when on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago. We waxed eloquently about how we could change the waste and theft in the government and then he made an enlightening comment. He said that in his mind the true threat to our civilization was corruption. I thought it to be interesting but not life threatening until I really put Ted’s Head to the task.
Let’s assume there is this utopia of moral high ground that we all strive for. Nobody’s perfect but we try to act with some degree of decency. We are all faced daily with the conundrum of good taste with the slightest hint of impropriety. Now is it me or has the fine line of ethical or acceptable moved a tad from the center? It also seems the movement has picked up steam with more and more people not only able but willing to look the other way. As Jay Leno once said,”Of course 90% of the men love Bill Clinton when he says oral sex is not having sex!”
The first lie is the toughest. Then it becomes almost second nature. Cheating? Once you have crossed the line you can justify anything. Politicians convince themselves that the millions foisted on them are because they are genuinely lovable as opposed to being openly bought. Major financial institutions rigging LIBOR? You have to do it to remain competitive. This grade of concrete in the construction project is a little substandard but hey, who is going to notice? Did the lawyer or doc overbill? Of course my summer house should be painted on the company. As CEO it is important I have a place to relax from the pressures of corporate life.
Then there is the best excuse of all….everyone is doing it so it must be okay. I am not talking about minor things. I am also not talking about Elizabethan England. It is just a sense that we have gone too far. We push envelopes and then you come full circle by not having any at all. A country and even moreso a world is judged by how it views right and wrong. We become desensitized by seeing neighborhoods in Damascus, Gaza, Donetsk and Israel blasted to smithereens for the sake of some principle. In Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan anarchy reigns. Can we really look at Russian Ukrainians looting a downed aircraft of goods and credit cards and not feel sickened? These weren’t just soldiers but locals looking past rotting corpses to the booty to be plundered. I hope you were reviled? I was and it had nothing to do with which side I was on.
There have been many civilizations throughout millennia. Somewhere along the way they lose their way and crash and burn We always borrow from the previous eras and one would hope we would bring value from those pasts and not necessarily the dregs. We should be cognizant with all our windows into history of past mistakes and excesses. Do you really think the Roman Empire at its worst was something to be idealized and imitated? The Middle Ages were brilliant in their art and culture but not every aspect should be replicated. At least not in this poor author’s mind.
I am not trying to be a missionary or holy roller. I have far too much work to get done on this old fart’s routine to be looking for trouble elsewhere. I am not going to tell you how to live your life or what values you should hold true. You might think it is cool to have someone throw up on you onstage like Lady GaGa and call it art. Have at it. Padding bills? Major or minor? Cheating the government, your company or your spouse? I’ll let you and you alone be the judge.
I guess what I am really saying is we should all take a pause. Sit down and really think about what is right and wrong for each one of us. Not what the world says is okay but your own judgment. After careful scrutiny if you think it works, go for it. It seems to me we are just rushing forward because we are too busy to sit down and figure out where we really are. To figure out what we stand for. As a person,a country and a world. Gotta go. I have a lot of thinking to do.
Ted The Great
Synonyms…..breakdown, decay, decomposition, festering, putrefaction, putrescence, rot, spoilage
Disasters bring out the worst in people with both public officials, individuals and private companies at the trough during hurricanes, tornadoes, BP Oil spill etc. making false claims or billing for work never done.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was convicted on 20 counts of conspiracy, bid rigging, bribery, wire fraud and income tax evasion.
The bids for the winning cities for the World Cup and Olympics are laced with gifts, entertainment, outright payments every time the decision comes around.
And finally from my good friend Neal Seibert comes the following:
In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the
University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the
Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: “A democracy is always
temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous
gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority
always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from
the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally
collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the
beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200
years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”
And that’s the truth!