by James Maple
Personal opinion of human nature; a commentary upon current political atmosphere.
| “I want you to embellish.”
I paused briefly to contemplate this comment. “You mean that you want us to lie?”
“No, no. I want you to embellish.”
I am 17 years old and attend a highschool in sunny Florida; my final period of the day is an instruction in the use of effective, spoken language, otherwise known as Speech class. During one class-session, we were assigned the task of preparing and presenting a speech in which we assumed the identity of an individual who’s ambition it was to become a super delegate. As any politician vying for power would, we were to convince the audience of our paragon-like nature by recounting, in detail, our multidinous achievements.
The first boy to mount the podium recited a litany of realistic, honest, albeit fairly trivial, accomplishments. “Yes, that’s all well and good, but I want you to embellish,” interjected my teacher. After my quiery, in which I disrobed the euphemism “embellishment” and essentially pointed out that the speech was really nothing more than blantant deceit, she responded by saying, “Yes, I suppose it is. But this is a political speech, afterall.”
Taken aback, dumbfounded, thunderstruck! Realization dawned upon me. Politicians lied! I know, it is a truly enlightning revelation. Before this occurrence, I trusted indefinitely the candidness of my governmental representatives.
Today many, are shocked by such travesty. 'Where did our morals go?' they ask, 'Hast all honour vanished?' Frankly, the treachery of our elected figures does not astonish me; rather, what astounds me is the astonishment that others exhibit at such news. But I err—I understate the extent of such folly. For these mistakes lie not simply in gullable trust of bureaucrats, but also in the belief that dishonesty is a modern phenomenon.
In reality, falsehood has quite an extensive relationship with us hominids. Tracing a line through time, I believe I have discovered the exact moment at which such ugliness boiled up from the previously untapped morass contained within our souls. A hairy little animal lurched along, questing. He stooped to clutch at a primeval antecedent of the melon or some such sustenance, with his less than fully opposable thumbs. Behind him, another of the creatures abruptly appeared, screeching for a share of the curious edible, to which the other wailed defensively. His ooohs and aaaahs could likely be translated, in slightly more comprehensible English, “Melon? Me no have melon.”
Fastforward to medieval Europe: the age of the knight in shining armor—who was not above slamming his pummel into the groin of his opponent; not beyond indescriminant pillaging and other Viking actions. Oh yes, the honorable knight knew how to win. How did the concept of an honorable knight arise? This I know not. However, it is of little import; the crucial thing is to recognize the self-deceit we humans inflict upon ourselves. Glorifying the knight was favorable to admitting his shortfalls.
Similarly, we deceive ourselves in considering fraudulence a modern sin, bred by our aberrant society. Why would politicians be any more sincere, any more honorable than those people that came before them? Our ancestors and the ancestors of our ancestors were a treacherous lot; and of their progeny, politicians are the least diluted offspring. This is not to say that they are incorrigible individuals; no, sometimes “embellishments” are quite necessary, when, as in the case of the white knight, the public is unwilling to accept fact.
But how can the truth-seeking among the hoi polloi go about casting a wise ballot? All sarcasms aside, here is my genuine, enlightning realization: When one votes for a politician, one is not voting for a person, but instead for a façade. To counteract this, I posit two solutions.
1. Do not vote. It is a waste of trees, and, infinitely more important, your precious time.
2. Vote, but do not do so based upon candidate speeches and advertisement; these are mere nostrums for society’s ailment. Instead, vote based upon an individual’s past record, for this is (likely) unaltered and unalterable. In doing so, you might glean the actual nature of a politician from the pages upon pages describing past action or inaction.
Call me pyrrhonistic, but I refuse to vote for anyone if they lack criterion by which I can accurately judge their allegiances. Personally, I find the former option appealing. That is not to say that, with sufficient background information, I would not vote. I would gladly cast a ballot in favor of an honest politician. Currently, though, I stand unimpressed.