What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: I am Nothing..
Throughout the course of his life, a man may enter into many contractual agreements. Employment, gym membership, e-commerce accounts, and marriage are all examples of contracts entered into by two parties.
The latter example, that of marriage, is one I wish to discuss—especially as it relates to public trust.
We know, of course, that not all divorces are the result of mutual foul play. In most cases, a divorce is the result of one party reneging on his/her promise, thereby leading the other to take action and seek divorce. Whatever the individual circumstances, nearly all divorces stem from broken trust and breach of contract.
I submit that there are severely negatively consequences when a society looks the other way while half of its members break their contracts right and left. It must be emphasized that the covenant of marriage is far more important than that of an HOA membership, for example. The latter is binding so long as you live in that home; the former is meant to perpetuate throughout one’s life (or eternity, depending on the type of marriage).
This widespread trend of divorce and adultery surely engenders a societal perception that grows to tolerate, dismiss, and minimize the implications of a broken contract. The fundamental consequence of these actions is a loss of trust—he who cheats on his wife is hardly credible when offering promises in other areas of life.
A recent example of this situation occurred a few days ago, when it became public knowledge that the
current (ex-) Governor of New York has been involved with a prostitute. Some supporters have argued that the consensual actions of two adults are their own business, and the governor should therefore be able to remain in office.
While I agree that under most circumstances two consenting adults can frolic as they please, the fact that this specific individual is an elected leader raises the broken contract issue to an important level. If a person cannot be trusted to keep a promise he made to one person (his wife), how can he be trusted to keep the promises he has made to his millions of constituents? It becomes apparent, then, that the breach of trust caused by this governor’s “private” actions renders him unfit for office.
Sadly, a society that contests the importance of keeping one’s marriage vows is far less likely to hold such people accountable for their actions. Under this circumstance, the boy who cried wolf is able to repeatedly get away with his shenanigans, as the public continues to trust his words despite his evident history of untrustworthy actions.
There are, no doubt, a plethora of other examples of broken contracts in our society. The teenage boy who steals a video game; the DVD collector that rents and then makes copies of the latest movies; the student that plagiarizes copyrighted content; the public officer that fails to uphold the Constitution; the employee that calls in sick to go snowboarding; all such examples, along with countless others, illustrate a pervasive existence of dishonesty, broken contracts, and a blatant disregard for fulfilling one’s promises.
As such, we would be mindful to remember that the nation that disregards its contractual obligations and supports those who have broken the most important of all trusts will not last long. As Lawrence D. Bell said, “Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things.”