It’s been difficult to avoid the drama surrounding President Donald Trump, the nuances associated with those who are investigating him and a whirlwind of other misguided events that have been in the spotlight.
Honestly, I have not paid much attention to the salacious and ironic details regarding hush money payments to a woman who makes a living by having filmed sex.
Or to evangelical Christians who have pretzeled themselves by compartmentalizing their faith and marginalizing the president’s infidelity.
Or to the president’s most adamant detractors suddenly finding moral compasses that were conveniently misplaced between 1992 and 2000.
At the White House Correspondents Dinner, a comic seeking to be edgy found the edge and, as is always a danger playing near the edge, fell over it. The reaction has been predictably and disappointingly partisan. Having watched the “roast,” I found some of it funny, but most of it was obscene and simple meanness.
Yet, today, it is that kind of bravado that gets past the noise and brings notoriety. It has launched the comic to number one on all social media searches, and it has The New York Times, bastion of all that is right and good, lecturing us: “She told the truth, and no one should be apologizing.”
But perhaps there’s truth in all of this. And perhaps the complete and most relevant truth is that we have enabled the absence of love to become a norm in our society.
Committing adultery is not the misguided past. It’s flatly rejecting loving your spouse.
Having sex with multiple men for money on camera is not theater, but the absence of or corruption of love. It reduces the union into an anesthetic, medical activity.
Failing to recognize wrongs so flamboyant and flaunted is not forgiveness, but enablement.
Using words to demean and demoralize with hostile venom is not telling the “truth.” It’s intentionally causing division and anger.
I am far from being virtuous, but, at some point, we have to take responsibility that we are all very flawed people who are permitting ourselves to get sucked into a cauldron of hate – and that there is nothing in our society that can be blamed for what is happening but ourselves.
Mass murders are not happening because of the gun. Hate speech doesn’t exist because of social media. Failing to accept political compromise is not the fault of “fake news.”
The truth is that “we the people” are not forming a more perfect union.
We are allowing negative and abusive behavior to persist. And because we fail to do our own due diligence – allowing laziness to take hold of our emotions and overwhelm our intellect – we have no business engaging in the public square.
The Founders had an expectation for all of us that we would have civic virtue. One where we show caring, compassion, humility and interest not just in our government but with our family, neighbors, friends and, yes, even our enemies.
This experiment in self-governance cannot work if we do not heed John Adams’ words: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Our society – if it fails to be religious – should at least pursue moral. And this starts with ourselves. All else will follow.
Hoeft, a retired Navy spokesperson, hosts The J.R. Hoeft Show, a weekly podcast available via jrhoeft.com. The one-time columnist for The Daily Press has been involved in or covering Virginia politics and public policy for more than two decades. He lives in the Hickory area of Chesapeake.
© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC/Used with permission.