Jeanette Sekan
Jeanette Sekan
By Jeanette Sekan
HCP columnist

Lying, bullying and other societal changes. I wonder if anyone else has given any thought to these traits recently. Unless one decides to willfully ignore the news or stay completely away from other humans, it’s something we seem to be dealing with on a daily or hourly basis. It’s pervasive. One wonders how to navigate traditional day-to-day situations in this new reality of me-first at all costs.

Whether it is the unfolding realities of critical safety features on airplanes being “optional equipment” or the leader of the free world lying about where his father was born we are confronted with lies, greed and a host of other situations that really are affecting how we traverse day-to-day living.

I can remember when lying, greed and other traits were behaviors we were taught to eschew lest we face serious consequences. Now, it seems like not only are there no more boundaries of decent behavior, but the more these offenses are committed in plain sight the fewer consequences anyone seems to face. Perhaps it’s our society as a whole that will ultimately pay for the consequences, while the individuals deciding to blast the norms seem to get away with more and more behaviors that heretofore were frowned upon.

There is a difference between breaking a defined law and just lying or behaving in a manner inconsistent with established societal norms. Hopefully we know the difference between legal crimes and moral or ethical lapses. The bar for punishing criminal activity is, and should be, high. The bar for dealing with the assault on decent behavior is a little more fuzzy, and seems to be getting fuzzier.

It isn’t illegal to lie about where one’s father was born. It may be creepy and beg the question of “what’s the point?” but it’s not against the law. It’s not illegal to cheat when playing golf, call people horrible names, and lie about polls or monetary/economic statistics. It’s not illegal to make cars and planes more expensive when you choose more options.

It may become expensive if some of those options, or lack thereof, cause deaths; but businesses have a wide berth about how they operate. Willful negligence for the sake of greed is a difficult case to make in the eyes of the law.

We’ve been inundated with behaviors that make most people who try to play by the rules of generally accepted behavior question why they bother. From the wealthy celebrity who buys college admission for their children, leaders here and abroad who bully their opponents and grab power haphazardly for their own selfish ends, to cheating at sports, to using those who are the most vulnerable among us as pawns in some temporary game, to companies who sell our private information for more profit, we are facing an unprecedented dent in the societal norms that allow us to grow and prosper.

I have to hope and believe that most people want a society of inherent decency. I have to hope that most will speak loudly and clearly against the behaviors of selfishness, greed and evil. As the prophet Micah taught, “…to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly…”

Jeanette Sekan is a columnist for the Cody Enterprise in Cody, Wyo. and a former resident of Ohio. Jeanette’s columns are published in The Highland County Press, courtesy of the author and the Cody Enterprise.