This past week’s Economist reviewed a new book by Stacy Schiff titled The Witches: Salem, 1692. I have not read the book, but the review makes clear how barbaric and unfair the witch trials were. Those that confessed to being witches were often spared while those who were adamant of their guilt were often executed. William Stoughton, the chief justice at the trials, allowed bizarre evidence (“spectral evidence”) from some witness to be admitted but disallowed it from others.
After reading the review, I couldn’t help but think how barbaric we, as humans, are. Since humanity has hardly evolved physically since the 17th Century, that means this barbarism is still an innate characteristic of us all. Nazi Germany is another, more recent, example of this barbarism. And there are yet other more modern examples. Kosovo, Syria and ISIS are three cases in point.
I have met those who truly believe that wealth, fame and/or notoriety are all achievements worthy of respect. I have also meet those for whom honesty, integrity and humility are more important. Unfortunately, I have met many of the former and few of the latter.
Very recently I had a conversation with an acquaintance who landed a very good job by lying about his career history. Actually, he went further than that. He enlisted an accomplice to play the role of his previous supervisor in order to embellish a recommendation. Not only did he think that was a reasonable approach to procuring a new position but he felt that, without this misrepresentation, he would be at a serious disadvantage. If everyone were to take this viewpoint (as many do) then we are doomed as a society.
One good friend of mine refers to most people as monkeys. When I first heard this description I thought it was funny, but I now believe it’s quite accurate. I think it is time for those of us who truly believe that society has lost its way to join together in a fraternity to work towards a better set of core values for our society. We need fewer but better laws. We need to hold not just our leaders, but also anyone in a position of authority, to account. I believe we need to enshrine basic Christian values of honesty and goodwill in our laws and our constitutions. We need to give prosecutors and the police incentive not just to enforce the law, but also to work towards justice. And we need to teach our children these values, instead of simply coddling them.
I am a small, anonymous, voice but I’d love feedback on this or any other blitherings I put in this blog. Positive or negative. It’s all helpful.