How many of us were raised with this axiom, “Honesty is the best policy” ? I remember many times in my formative years at that critical moment when it would have been so easy to “fib”, or offer up a harmless “white lie“, or in those moments of true dire straits, standing guilty before my Dad, when I would continue to conjure up a nice sounding half truth and morph reality ever so slightly.
Why did I squirm, and look for ways to cover up my mess? Why did I risk even greater consequences by hiding my “sin” by ignoring truth and advocating dishonesty? Well… it’s simple. I didn’t want to get in trouble – and – I knew it would be painful to own up to my own actions. Imagine that. I would risk lying and foist a cover up on a bad choice on my part so that I would not be responsible for the consequences that belonged to me and that I deserved.
Sound familiar? (hint: financial bailouts)
Yes, in the short term I would: 1) Avoid the pain. 2) Eliminate the suffering.
But, in the end, I learned nothing. And would continue to do whatever got me in trouble in the first place.
So when I came across this blog from a fellow Orthodox convert, Rod Dreher it caused me to offer an uncharacteristically un-Orthodox and emotively charged “Hallelujah!” because someone out there finally gets it! Someone finally has the courage to say that “The Emperor has no clothes on…” someone is saying maybe it’s better that we aren’t “bailed out” of this mess – that we have created. How long can we keep running from our own poor choices? How long can we keep hoping that someone will “bail us out” – or “bail me out” so it won’t hurt too bad? Excuse me, “Isn’t this our mess?” Or “my” mess? Didn’t we create it through two decades of greed and budgetary suicide? So tell me, “Why do we deserve a “soft” comfortable bailout?” “Why do our children and grandchildren need to pay the bill that we rang up?” MaybeThe best thing that could happen is for our nation to take responsibility for the mess we are in, to tell truth, to absorb every painful part of the consequences, and finally learn from our mistakes and not pass it on to our newly born son.
Here’s what Andrew Sullivan, quoted in Rod’s blog says:
Like most of you, I am not an economist although I try to make as much layman’s sense of it all as I can and am not completely ignorant of history. But the radicalism of the current policies pioneered by Paulson and Brown and now getting even more outlandish seems to me to have two potentials: to somehow drag us out of this without an almighty crash now but make the recovery from debt even more arduous, or to add unimaginable mountains of debt to our current plight and still not manage to avoid the crash, thereby making it all much worse. The abandonment of any sobriety in this moment is disturbing. Everyone is acting as if the worst thing that could possibly happen is that we should all feel the full impact of the massive fiscal recklessness of the past decade. Why? Why does the world owe us a soft landing after the insanity of the last decade? Haven’t the excesses of the past shown that it is only through such market discipline that we will ever avoid the easy path of borrowing out of greed? Yes, innocents will suffer terribly, and many of the guilty will escape. But that is life: we can and should try to help the poorest, but avoiding our collective responsibility for this insanity seems a very bad signal to send to ourselves.
The truth is: we had this coming. We deserve it.
And we deserve leaders who are able to tell us that.
Yes. Our pastors, priests and parents were right: Honesty is the best policy – even if it hurts.
Especially when it hurts.