April 30 was National Honesty Day. Not that it matters. Unsurprisingly, there is no presidential or congressional declaration honoring even 24 hours of truth-telling.
That being the sad truth, and in the spirit of Lois Lerner’s lost (and more now found) emails, here’s a short fish story – a true story as it turns out – of the one(s) that didn’t get away.
At first he thought he’d hooked bottom but cranking on the reel whatever heavy thing it was began to rise until finally, emerging from the dark depths, there appeared the long handle of a fishing net and, surprisingly, caught in the mesh were no less than five perch.
We trade coffee for fish stories (coffee is free anyway because if you can drink it you can have it) and this certainly approached a whopper of a tale – and thus a thermos-full – but after a third cup the discussion turned to how these perch had ended up trapped in the first place.
You would think that there could hardly be few things more unfathomable than to drag up from the very murky, extremely muddy bottom where the light doesn’t shine, caught in the web of government’s absurdities: waste, fraud, abuse and deceit, but then to clean, cook and consume them anyway.
Let alone those perch, what does this say about our principles?
Along the lines (pardon the pun) of a large rock or a concrete block tied to your line and tossed into the water, “Our society increasingly values people and their behavior according to their wealth, not to their integrity,” wrote Jeffrey Sachs for “Huffington Post” this past April 24.
Big splash, no fish.
“‘Ethics,’ the lawyer calmly said, are determined by what they catch you doing. If you don’t get caught, then you haven’t violated any ethics” (John Grisham’s “Sycamore Row,” p.223).
Likewise Jean-Fransois Revel: “A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence.”
But truth, transparency, trust? They’re only a day on the calendar.