Sunday, March 30, 2008

Like a lizard on a windowpane

Have you ever rolled through a red light before making a 'right on red' turn? Gunned it a little and told yourself 'it was still yellow' as you rushed through a traffic signal? Taken at least one more penny than you've left at the 7-11's and Cumberland Farms' stores where you get your coffee in the morning? These are (obviously) rhetorical questions-I'm not sharing my answers and I don't expect you to share yours. But, as I'm told old Irish grandmothers say, 'in for a sheep, in for a lamb', the point being (I think) where do you draw the line on the lie? When does the fib of convenience become something more, and perhaps something ugly?
Same sort of thing with honesty-public and private. I'm not sure the former isn't an extension of the latter, except sometimes we end up knowing a neighbor who becomes a selectman, or a representative (or some such) and as honest as he/she is in person and in private conversation, the public person seems to be different. My evil twin, Skippy, has explained to me that everybody lies and we're stuck in the middle, and I'd like to believe that but what if he's lying, too?

At the national level we have sincere, well-meaning people seeking to be the next President but meaning well and doing well are two different things and I fear we get confused a bit too easily, maybe because we want to. I like that, so far, all the leading candidates are 'talking about the issues' but with seven months and change until we pull the lever or mark the scannable ballot or cast the chicken entrails into the fire and make our choices known and our voices heard, when do you think we might hear specifics about what I'm told are the issues of our time?

As an example, how to make health care more accessible and affordable? We've already demonized lawyers and their class-action suits and punitive judgments in malpractice cases that's ruining health care and we've blamed chiseler and cheater doctors who defraud Medicare and insurance companies of billions of dollars and I'm not sure who's left to blame, but I'm sure we'll find someone. And meanwhile, in all the noise and tumult, we've lost sight of the national priority to fix the problem.

Same thing with the 'sub-prime crisis' which seems, to me, neither a banker nor a home-mortgage holder, to be an extreme case of how much lying is okay. As it turns out, when everyone in the negotiation has something to hide and does, other people (both borrowers and lenders) get dragged into the morass. It didn't seem that big a deal at the time of the paper signing, and yet here we are, stuck in the middle.

I'm not mentioning Iraq or Afghanistan (actually nobody mentions Afghanistan; it has become the Korea to Vietnam in terms of news reporting or national awareness or consciousness) because I'm not sure half a decade on we've fully understood why we went to these places and what we thought the possible outcomes might be. It's perhaps soothing to hear the leading candidates speak about what they would have done-but what's next and how do we, as a nation, get to there? 'If my mother had married a Kennedy, I'd be living in the White House. But she didn't, so I'm not. And that's how my mom ruined my life.' Honest, officer, the light was still yellow. Ask my mom.
-bill kenny

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