There was a bit of traffic yesterday evening when I was driving down Delaware Avenue to meet a friend at the Lark Street Wine Bar & Bistro. The traffic was typical end of the work day stuff, nothing too extreme, but there were a number of occasions when other drivers were looking to be allowed into the flow of traffic, or yielded to, as they attempted to make a turn which necessitated their crossing a lane of traffic. I generally wave these people through and give them the opportunity to make their turn or join the line of traffic, but I noticed yesterday that this was not the norm and it made me a little sad.
I reflected on the early post-Obama-elections days and how there was a discernible shift in the mood of our country. At that time, I observed an increase of common courtesy as if everyone was feeling slightly intoxicated with the headiness of possibility. And, no, I don't believe it was the consumption of some liberal kool aid that caused this to occur, but instead, it was the confident knowledge that citizens could become involved in an issue, or cause, and help to create a movement for change. And, 18 months ago our country was filled with an enormous positive energy and a sense of possibility that was unifying and powerful. Unfortunately, this awesome dynamism seems to have disappeared. Or, as I like to think, it has joined ethics and morals in some kind of contemporary place of exile where they are cowering from the energy that has filled their void, namely - greed.
Every single day there seems to be yet another news story about a corrupt politician or an unscrupulous business titan. A person who has decided that power is a greater currency than honesty. In the last few years, as more and more examples of this are reported on by the media, I've often wondered what happens to these people? As a parent, I try to instill in my children a sense of right and wrong, the notion that doing the right thing is more valuable than money or possessions. Weren't these people taught the same thing? Assuming they (insert Bruno, Espada, Paterson, Spitzer...) came to their positions as adults, wasn't that central core of ethics already in place? Is there some unavoidable relationship between political/corporate success and lack of ethics? And, speaking of relationships - these corrupt politicians who seemingly are divorced from any internal compass about right and wrong, are the same people who are in a position to legislate on whether or not same sex couples can marry?
Perhaps I lack ambition or some crucial organic urge to dominate the world, but I'm sincerely okay with that. Maybe instead of talking about what we can do, the conversation should be about what we will do. I will continue to teach my children that honesty is more dear than power and that respect is earned not demanded. I will also happily allow any of you to cut in front of me to get to where you need to go. And I will hope that we can all get to a place together where possibility and ethics cheerfully coexist.