TriceEdney — I’m a product of the “Southern Experience.” Many of my views are shaped by the “mother wit” and logic learned growing up there. There’s something unique to the down-to-Earth “common sense” of the “Old Folks” as they reckoned with and evaluated their circumstance and environment.
One of the frequently repeated axioms I distinctly remember goes like this: “If you lie, you’ll cheat! If you cheat, you’ll steal! And, if you steal, you’ll kill!” This evaluation of human character may appear overly-simplified, but it presents a concept of progressive immorality that’s not altogether unreasonable. In fact, among many practitioners of these vices, we find the connection between those sins the rule rather than exception.
Unlike today, the “Old Folks” took a dim view of those who couldn’t deal in The Truth. Honesty and personal integrity were attributes that were essential to the level of esteem one commanded in the community. Of course, there were Liars and Conmen who victimized their communities, but they were usually transients who claimed no communal foundations nor places where they were welcomed. Once discovered, they were shunned or run out of town and little could be done to rehabilitate their reputations. There are no justifiable reasons for the breakdown of the communal values of truthful, plain-dealing, but a breakdown has happened and our nation is the worse for it.
Sadly, rejection of truthful dealings has become more pervasive. Many accept situational ethics as a standard for dealing with others. Rather than the “Golden Rule,” far too many practice principles of “do it to them before they do it to me.” Their standard interaction accepts the elevation of personal interests as superior to all else. This has led to a coarsening of personal interaction and discourse.
In times past, we could reconcile that some among us would embrace the dark side, but we could always count on a core element to, at least, exemplify the image of personal integrity, honesty and values consistent with them. Now, even among those traditionally held to the highest of standards of personal integrity, we see an erosion in truthful dealing. Sadly, unlike any time in my past, the current President of the US is a principal exemplar of this abhorrent behavior.
When candidate Trump’s behavior was considered “out of line” with behavioral norms expected of one seeking the presidency, many observers believed it would disqualify him from gaining office. Incredulously, others excused him with the caveat that he would “turn around” after using his bizarre behavior as an election tool.
Trump’s lies prior to the election pale in contrast to those experienced post-election. His lies about President Obama’s birthplace, about divesting himself of his business interests and releasing his tax returns seem benign when compared with the avalanche of lies that have flown from the White House since Inauguration Day.
We political types, who neither accept nor offer excuses for Trump’s lies, wonder under what circumstances he could begin to contrive the lies he tells and, even worse, in what universe do these lies merit belief by his followers. The New York Times has constructed a list of all of Trump’s lies since January 21st (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html). Including the lie about his inauguration crowd size, the Times reports that he told a public falsehood every day for his first forty days in office and, since then, his lies are more common than not.
As I see it, our future is to be inundated with Trump’s lies. Many will believe him unconditionally. Others will grow frustrated and weary of dealing with the deluge of lies.
Our ultimate task will be an on-going vigilance and challenge to the lies, cheating, stealing and potential killing this man has the capacity and authority to render. How many more lies must we endure?
Dr. E. Faye Williams, can be reached at 202/678-6788; or at, www.nationalcongressbw.org