I have noticed that we are fighting wars on every front. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq is perhaps the most visible because we tend to think of wars as military operations.
There are several others we are deeply committed to as well.
- The war on racism around 1960
- The war on poverty from 1965
- The war on drugs from 1971
- The war on climate change from the early 90s
- The war on terror since 2001
On top of that we have appointed innumerable czars to look after particular aspects of our lives. Do any of these work? Not in my experience.
These wars have failed and if anything they have encouraged the expansion of what is intended to be destroyed. Perhaps we should get the government to declare war on common sense, wealth and good health. That might benefit all of us.
We must recognize that war is universally a political tactic. Politicians like the war metaphor because it provides polarization that they can exploit for political advantage. I am old-fashioned and think that if you want to solve a problem, you just do it. That is not politically advantageous though, so it seldom happens.
Hiram Johnson was an American political figure who died in 1945. In 1912 he was Teddy Roosevelt’s running mate and was a senator from 1917 to 1940. He seemed to have a handle on the real world. His comment in 1917 with respect to war is insightful.
“When war comes, the first casualty is truth.”
Winston Churchill pointed out a similar idea later.
“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
This thought is often attributed to George Orwell, but no one has found it in his writings. Nonetheless a useful idea.
“Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.”
In our times, war is not military, but we still find the bodyguard of lies. Lies today include half-truths, propaganda, spin and outright misrepresentation. Whether war is armed conflict or political distraction, the absence of truth is pervasive. How should we decide the proper course of action for society or even for our own lives?
There are few revolutionaries among politicians and the media today and that is to our disadvantage. Truth is a life simplifying factor and we should demand more of it and reward it when provided.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. email@example.com 866-285-7772