Lying appears to be becoming an acceptable means to an end.
Some weeks ago we watched the balloon boy hoax motivated by the desire for money and stardom. It didn't much matter to the perpetrators the effect their stunt might have on other people.
They weren't concerned about the mobilization and cost of resources and manpower. They were concerned about getting publicity, by whatever means necessary, in order to further their career ambitions and financial aspirations.
Ethics. Responsibility. Not in their personal dictionary of words to live by.
A few days ago we watched a couple lie their way into the White House and shake President Obama's hand, in the hopes that their stunt would catapult them into the fame and fortune of reality television.
Both of these events reflect a disturbing trend in our society, a downward spiral into hypocrisy, deception and self-absorption with a total disregard for the concerns of others, in order to further one's own personal agenda, usually motivated by selfishness and greed.
And it's now moving beyond promotional pranks.
Religious leaders are advocating breaking laws they don't agree with. Radical militia groups are on the rise, encouraging Americans to arm themselves against the United States government should the time come when it's somehow decided that overthrowing the government is in their best interests.
All of this is not particularly encouraging, especially at a time when the world needs truth, compassion, empathy, responsibility, cooperation and commitment to ethics and ideals.
This is not a time for regression to greater lawlessness, chaos and violence.
So what do we do about it?
We need to discourage the abuse. Breaking the law to increase ratings and profit margins needs to be prosecuted, at the individual level and at the corporate level.
Most people are like little children who don't stop bad behavior unless they are punished. They don't care about the effects of their actions on others. They want what they want and they want it now.
Point being: Most people will not stop their bad behavior until it is in their best interests to do so. It won't be in their best interests to do so until they see that there are severe consequences to actions that are illegal and unethical.
Boundaries, which are necessary to limit chaos and degenerate behaviors, need to be re-set, re-established and consistently reinforced. If we are to survive this century, it is critical that the wild west mentality which is brewing and stewing be dampened by individual and group commitment to democracy, justice, rules of law, and, above all, truth.
Which means that each us should look at the opportunities in our lives to speak out against lies and hypocrisy when it is staring us in the face.
Each of us should look at the opportunities in our lives to make choices in our daily transactions with others which better reflect our commitment to honesty, honor, integrity, fairness, and compassion.
The most important place for us to look for opportunities to nurture truth is in our personal relationships.
It is so very easy to bend the truth in order to make ourselves be perceived by others in a better light. This is short-sighted.
We make assumptions about the thoughts and actions of our partners, based perhaps on the way they've behaved in the past, on our harbored resentments, or on denials and misconceptions about ourselves. This is short-sighted as well.
If we are put off in some way by our partner, it behooves us to engage our partner in dialogue, to communicate our concerns, and to get clarification of motives and actions so that we don't jump to conclusions, create new resentments and generate more barriers to connection and intimacy.
In summary: In order to rebuild the ethical foundations of our institutions so that they will stand the test of time and fear, we must rebuild the ethical foundations of our personal relationships.
We must re-infuse our relationships with truth and integrity by communicating verbally, non-verbally, and by our actions a renewed commitment to mutual respect, consideration, empathy, and generosity, with a focus on nurturing peaceful, cooperative solutions to conflicting needs for the greatest good of all concerned.