Lying, misleading, and being evasive are permeating American life. No doubt these reprehensible actions have been going on since the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Viking Period of the Middle Ages, and the existence of Shakespeare in the 1600s. But these behaviors seem to be having a disturbing pervasiveness lately.
It's become quite apparent that Lance Armstrong wasn't completely honest about his use of performance enhancing drugs to help him win the Tour de France seven straight times. Roger Clemens swears to this day he didn't use them because he sought to become a multiple Cy Young Award winning pitcher. But does anyone really believe him?
Back in the 1990s, O.J. Simpson swore up and down he didn't kill his former wife and boyfriend yet his DNA littered the crime scene. Although acquitted, millions upon millions of Americans are pretty sure he committed the heinous crimes.
But these are just sports examples. Politics, anyone?
Barack Obama has been--at the very least-evasive about answering questions related to the death of four Americans in a terrorist attack in Libya on September 11, 2012. Some have suggested he misled the American people about what happened. Mitt Romney has been accused of stretching the truth and perhaps misleading in his claims about what he would do to improve America if he were elected President. We all know now that is not going to happen. I don't know to this day, and never will, whether he was telling the truth, half the truth, or a boldface lies. It's a mystery to us all and I have never been a big fan of mystery novels.
With all these not exactly forthright claims, assertions and accusations running rampant in sports and politics, the question is why? As usual, the answer inevitably boils down to money and self-interest. Too many of us care about these two things way too much. Armstrong wanted fame, glory and money he could obtain by winning the Tour de France. Clemens craved the same sort of achievements and adulation in baseball. O.J. wanted revenge. Obama and Romney wanted to be the American president to obtain all the money, benefits, and power that brings. They wanted to revive the country, or so they said in their speeches. Not sure really what either of them really wants beyond money and self-interest fulfillment. Republicans and Democrats have been guilty of these untruthful tactics for decades.
Money, self-interest, and power--these are the things that people will lie, mislead and be evasive about to obtain. Years ago my father told me that I should never lie to anyone because if that person catches you, they will never believe you the next time. How true that is. If anyone lies to you, there is zero chance you will believe them the next time. Trust is broken. Game over.
For the most part I haven't lied in my life, though of course am not perfect. While in high school I had a wild friend who my father didn't care for. My Dad warned me not to hang out with him because he was trouble. I told him I wouldn't. Several weeks later I went out with this guy and his girlfriend and my girlfriend. We stayed out late and the wild guy and his girlfriend caroused even later. The next morning his mother called my parents asking if I knew where her son was. "Were you out with him last night?" my father asked pointedly. "No," I told him. I lied. I'm not proud of this. I did so because if I told the truth my father would have punished me somehow. It would not have been pleasant and I didn't want him to be ashamed of me, not him of all people. The repercussions of telling my Dad the truth were so ominous to me that I succumbed to the pressure, to my own self-interest.
I'm consumed by this subject of lying and misleading in the wake of Presidential election and sports. Tracking the race was an adventure into grayness and ambiguity. You couldn't tell in the debates, for example, who was telling the truth especially when each candidate accused the other of lying and misleading. When this happens, who is to be believed? Think about it. If you and I start accusing each other of lying when we say things, where are we? Where can we go with that until someone either stops lying or stops accusing the other of lying? The answer is nowhere. Human interpersonal progress hits a brick wall.
In the political arena this stuff has been going on forever, I imagine. The problem I have is it goes on and on with no end in sight, tumbling down the dark tunnel of lying that has no other side. The election is over yet I'm still confused about what was said, who would do what for the country. The vote determined who would be the next President but I'm left with no feeling of closure. It's just emptiness and bewilderment.
In sports, there is less of this ongoing obfuscation. At the end the team who scores the most points wins. That's not disputable and elegantly simple. Granted, the candidate with the most electoral votes at the end of the election wins, which makes these concepts somewhat similar. But in my view sports are more pure and straightforward, and therefore better to follow, watch, and participate in.
For example, remember a few years ago when the New England Patriots were accused of filming practices of their opponents? They got caught and the NFL fined head coach, Bill Belichik. He misled, or slightly cheated, or did something that wasn't quite fair and paid a price. This doesn't seem to happen in politics as much nor as sensibly. So much just blows by without anyone paying for it. A candidate gets caught doing something and he or she just misleads and misdirects and gets out of the mess.
During the past year, when the New Orleans Saints were caught offering bounties to defensive players to injure opposing players, three coaches got severely penalized. The NFL caught them allegedly lying or misleading or not coming fully clean with the truth. For being caught they got what they deserved. Whether you think they deserved to be penalized or not, at least action was taken. They had to be accountable for their actions. Politicians too often are not.
When defensive players hurl themselves at wide receivers' heads, they get fined significant sums of money. They break the rules and they suffer the consequences. It all makes sense. Politicians break rules and hold hearings to talk about it for awhile.
Last year's Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants, didn't lie, cheat and mislead their way to the title. They practiced hard, played aggressively, and scored the most points in the last game of the season. They didn't have to lie about anything. There was no reason to. They weren't trying to make certain groups of NFL fans love them and vote for them. They didn't make any promises to anyone they will have difficulty keeping. They didn't run attack ads about the opposing Super Bowl coach or player. They didn't personally insult the characters of opposing players. They didn't have to. They didn't need to. And they didn't want to. They were playing a sport, trying to win a championship for their fans, which is pure and noble and, in the end, entertaining and fun. They were not insulting other human beings. They were not bragging about all their accomplishments. They were not saying things to certain types of people just to get their votes. They were not angling for power; they were angling to win. The latter is a more pleasing and honorable motive.
The Giants were athletes playing a sport. They were good and worthy of our attention. They were part of a world that makes sense that, in the end, is wholesome and good and polices itself from within. There is an inherent clarity to sports, much more so than in politics
I don't know about you, but I really like clarity even if it's clarity about something bad. Having more of it enables me to sleep more soundly. Having less of it brings on melancholy and frustration, almost madness at times.