Editor: We don’t talk much about the enemy within, do we? It is not an exaggeration to say that it is a weapon of mass destruction. It appears to be an infectious disease, perhaps more accurately a pandemic. There may be no cure for it, but can we keep it under control? Are we addicted to it? Is there a 12-step program to treat it? This dreaded ailment is corruption.
The prescient Benjamin Franklin warned us about it in 1787 when he asked for unanimous acceptance of the Constitution. No naïve idealist, Franklin reminded us that our nation — as a republic — “was likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.” One doesn’t have to be an alarmist to wonder about whether we have reached that unfortunate stage in our history.
Our most important institutions have been infected — church, state, commerce, education — those bastions of intelligence, character and prosperity that have been the foundations of our greatness are now in headlines revealing their dishonesty and deceit. The situation is grave enough to demand our attention, our remorse, our disgust and our action. Democracy is based on trust — it is essential to the rule of law that we can count on our fellow citizens to obey the laws if we do. The law — that is law made by and for the people — gives us the freedom that too few have to chart our own destiny.
Corruption erodes our most valuable possession.
In 2012 let’s just say no to corruption. Let’s not be bystanders — it’s ours to fix. Let Franklin be our prophet and our guide.
December 23, 2011