Friday, February 5, 2010

A Time for Courage

Characters in mysteries lie all the time. The bad guys deny they did it. The cops lie in an effort to make them admit it. So lying is a time-honored device in the field of mystery writing. The problem is that lies can have far-reaching consequences, particularly when they are indulged in by our leaders.

This isn't a political discourse, at least not of a partisan nature, as the ability to skirt the truth seems to be an endemic disease in Washington, if not around the all the world's capitals. I get several daily newsletters from groups offering financial advice. I don't always read them, unless the headline catches my fancy. This morning one snagged me with this:

A Time for Honesty, Sacrifice, and a Serious Financial Course Change

The author, who lives in Florida, had just returned from a vacation trip to New York, London and Paris. The most memorable spot he visited was the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms off St. James Park in Westminster. He described the low-ceiling, cramped quarters in the basement of the UK Treasury where Churchill and his staff worked during the Nazi bombings of London. And he wrote:

"You can listen to the speeches Churchill delivered even as the bombs fell — never lying to the British public about the dire straits they were in ... but also never failing to inspire."

He brought this up because of a feeling that politicians have lost the ability to level with us, particularly when it comes to financial matters. He said there's no Churchill on the scene telling it like it is and asking us for personal sacrifice. "Instead, politicians keep promising the sun, the moon, and the stars — even though we simply can't afford it. We're SPENDING like there's a massive world war going on even though there isn't! And no one seems to want to change this course we're on."

The author pointed out that projections by the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and CBO (Congressional Budget Office) project the deficit will increase to 18.1 trillion dollars by 2020, with the interest jumping from $188 billion to $840 billion. That's interest, folks, money that doesn't buy you one penny of anything.

But ever hopeful, the article states:

"We CAN still turn things around. We can pull our nation out of this fiscal tail spin. Heck, if the average Londoner could pick himself out of the rubble of his home, brush himself off, and head to work in the middle of the Blitz, then we can show the same stoic resolve here. But that will take real political courage and real sacrifices. There is no easy way out."

Lying may be the thing that ramps up a mystery, but it ain't good when indulged in by our leaders of all stripes. Come to think of it, there ought to be a good mystery plot in there.

Chester Campbell


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Amen, Chester!

The Daring Novelist said...

You can reverse this and apply it to mystery writing too. Sometimes we have our characters lie because it it makes our job easy. Where there's a lie, there is built in conflict, but that conflict is under control.

Maybe It would be good for us, and for the world, if we as writers would have courage to let our characters have the courage to tell the truth when it isn't convenient.

K.M. Weiland said...

I'm sure there *is* a mystery waiting to be written on the subject! Churchill is an enormous historical figure. Certainly not a man of impeccable moral character, but his charisma is undeniable.

Morgan Mandel said...

Hmmm, maybe that person should start the sacrifice ball rolling by not taking such great vacations. Of course, then that might hurt the airplane industry. You can't win.

Morgan Mandel