Graybyrd's Quick and Dirty

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Sat, 22 Aug 2020

Fool me once...


For years I've believed and shared the belief that the greatest sin is lying.

Does that seem odd? What about murder, thieving, lust, envy, and the host of other sins we're warned against; some so egregious that stern laws and punishments exist to dissuade transgression.

But... lying?

Lies in advertising, business, and politics have become so commonly accepted that campaign and marketing promises are considered a game; "only a fool takes them seriously!" It's all accepted with a nod and a wry grin. Politicians are expected to make glorious promises, lies, that everybody knows are lies but are accepted as feel-good fodder for the sky-blown rhetoric of the moment. Party platforms are accepted as ephemeral promises made to appease anxious but gullible voters.

So we're conditioned to go easy on lies and liars. "No big deal," we hear. "Everybody does it. It's all part of the pitch, the message, the social grease of daily life. You're expected to check it out, make adjustments, and don't get all hot and bothered about it."

Until it comes to trust.

"The check is in the mail." Everybody knows that's a joking reference to a common lie. Expect the check but don't hold your breath.

The thing is, we've learned not to trust. Except when it comes to vital services: Doctors. Banks. Public utilities. Pension checks. Prescription drugs. Groceries. There we have a basic need. We must trust.

But if trust is betrayed: a bank cheats; a doctor operates while intoxicated; a bag of spinach is deadly; a pension fund defaults. Trust is exceedingly hard to restore once betrayed. One cannot easily trust again. Without trust the foundations of life crumble.

Nothing is possible without trust. Think about it.

Take the U.S. Postal Service. Note that name: "service." Not "business," but service. Mandated in the U.S. Constitution as a fundamental service to unite the people and serve the democratic foundation of our government. To serve us all from every city to all remote corners regardless of wealth or situation.

Until recently, that is.

People trust reliable delivery of prescription drugs to maintain health and life. Lately they're arriving late, after the on-hand supply runs out. The consequences are dire.

Seniors trust the monthly arrival of pension checks. They have rent, mortgage payments, water and power and heating bills to pay, groceries to buy. When checks are late, mortgage and utility payments are late; meals are missed.

In Maine this week news networks report that thousands of live chicks are arriving dead. The trusted on-time deliveries of mail-order chicks are delayed and chicks perish in the shipping cartons. Rural people have long depended upon and have trusted that live poultry chicks to restock their flocks would come from the hatchery via U.S. Mail. It has always worked. It has been affordable and trustworthy. But not now.

When medicine fails to arrive before it runs out; when checks fail to arrive before payments are due; and when shipments of chicks arrive dead... will we remain so trusting?

Will promises of 'better next time' be trusted?

Recent claims that massive changes in U.S. Postal policies and operations are to achieve greater economy and efficiency appear to be deceptive at best and lies at worst. What now of trust?

Deceptions, half-truths, and lies destroy trust. Without trust nothing is possible.


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Advanced age brings a certain privilege of commentary. Whether these are the sage words of a wise old man, or the mumbled ramblings of an old fool ... are left to the reader. This is my work in progress. These are Graynote's diary pages.

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