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Secrets

In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the hero is a rube. He takes things at face value and makes decisions based on his gut. The movie celebrates his honestly and simplicity.

Could it actually work in the real world?

The CIA and many other parts of our federal government operate on the assumption that the ends justify the means. This means that we might start something that means death to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians but in the end we have something we want. That "something" may not even be spelled out except on a "need to know" basis.  For example, we are in Iraq. Thousands of our own troops are dying, contractors are dying, Iraqi civilians are dying, and the country is in the midst of a civil war. We got rid of Saddam but what did we do for Iraq really? And why? Did we go in there because suddenly we felt sorry for the Iraqis after all these years? They'd been living with Saddam for almost twenty years - more? - but suddenly it's important to get rid of him. Anyone with any sense knows that this is not the reason we went in there.

But everyone is guessing. Or, I should say, those of us who don't accept everything we read or hear. We can't get the truth, not by asking.

We do things so that we "appear" one way or another. For example, Kennedy and the missile crisis - he had to "appear" strong after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Bush puts on his "decider" image because he wants people to believe he's strong and in control. We can't lose face.

But why? Would it end the world if we were honest about our intent and if we did what we said we were going to do for the reasons we said we would do these things?

I can think of many reasons for hiding our intent. But with all of our elaborate mechanisms what have we done? We have created one mess after another and I'm not convinced we've done that much good. If we were to be straight-out honest and direct from now on could we possibly do worse?

I think what it comes down to is a reading of the future. If a senator takes a stand that is unpopular, because she or he believes it is the right stand, he or she may not be re-elected. Well, tough. We need people in office who are willing to risk future elections. What would our country be like if only such people applied? When one goes down another pops up. What might it take to get a large crop of truly honorable people to run for office?

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