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Letter: Too much lying from our leaders

To the editor:

Today’s iconic leaders are promptly forgiven after exposure for lying. Historical novelist Gore Vidal observed, “American are not concerned with anything that happened before yesterday,” and called us “The United States of Amnesia.”

Following a worldwide blizzard of egregious duplicities by bankers, government bureaucrats, politicians, and business leaders, a recent survey discloses fabrication is rampant globally. Thirty-one thousand citizens of 26 countries reported their leaders “...just can’t get around to telling the truth.” (R. Edleman)

This cultural breakdown, if unaddressed, becomes a suicidal malignancy. Devoid of integrity, self-serving leaders dissolve trust, the very glue which bonds family, friends, and democracies. Social harmony corrodes; public behaviors deteriorate; whistleblowers exposing mendacities are punished, not commended.

Our Pilgrim settlers suffered no amnesia. They, too, forgave deceit ­— but not before exacting a penalty to discourage further iniquity. A pillory stood in their public square, a wooden framework with three holes enclosing an offender’s arms and head (often shaved). Dishonesty, public drunkenness, deranged behaviors and other peccadillos carried confinement durations.

Weather, flies, crawling insects, abusive children and spitting of unforgiving passersby caused harsh punishment to be sure. However, just the threat of public disgrace, shame and humiliation curbed future transgressions before the pillory faded into the dust bin of history.

A cultural restoration of integrity is still possible. Shame retains its corrective impact and the public square is now in every zip code.

Laurance Foley

Dublin

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