By Kristen Johnson
On this day in history, November 3, 1986, it was revealed that the United States had been secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure release of seven American hostages being held in Lebanon. Such actions went against U.S. policy and specifically against President Reagan’s policy of not negotiating with terrorists. A few weeks later it got worse when it was discovered that proceeds from the arms sales were being used to fund Nicaraguan rebels—the Contras. As a result, officials in the administration resigned or were fired, and President Reagan took responsibility for the arms-for-deal but disavowed knowledge of the funds for the Contras. Later, eleven White House, State Department, and intelligence officials were found guilty on a variety of serious charges. (History.com).
So, politicians and people in power lie. The sad thing is that it wasn’t shocking in the 80s, and it isn’t shocking now. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when most of likely think that politicians lie more often than they tell the truth, and that they only want what’s best for themselves.
Nothing much has changed in the last 30 years, since President Reagan (practically nominated for sainthood by the GOP in the past few decades) and his administration were mired in this political scandal, which included a whole lot of lying and using funds for nefarious purposes. After the first recent Presidential debate, PolitiFact found that:
In PolitiFact scorecards, Clinton’s comments were 22 percent “true,” 28 percent “mostly true,” 22 percent “half true,” 15 percent “mostly false,” and 11 percent “false,” and 2 percent “pants on fire.”
Those numbers fare much better than Trump’s scorecard, in which his comments were 4 percent “true,” 11 percent “mostly true,” 15 percent “half true,” 17 percent “mostly false,” 34 percent “false,” and 18 percent “pants on fire.” (International Business Times).
Both the left and right talk often about lies, and about what our taxpayer dollars fund. (In particular, the GOP talks often about refusing to fund abortions, and the desire to defund Obamacare, etc.) In 2015, the average household spent $13,000 dollars on federal taxes (obviously we pay a lot more in state and other taxes, depending on which state we live in, etc.) The biggest chunk of that money goes to health programs (28.7%) (Medicare, social security, etc.) followed closely by 25.4% for the Pentagon and military. Way down on the list is education (3.6%) and energy and environmental programs (1.6%). (CNN Money).
What can we possibly do to force politicians to tell the truth? What can we do to ensure that our federal tax dollars continue to fund much needed health programs, while also funding things like science, housing, transportation, and saving the environment? How can we refuse to continue to fund wars? Refusing to give in to voter apathy is one good step. Voting the right people into office is another. But, really, being a part of the process is certainly an effective way to make change.
I am blessed to serve as the Social Justice Chair for my United Methodist Women’s group. A big part of my job is alerting members to local, national, and international social justice issues and working to make change (especially for women and children). I am also required to write letters and keep in contact with local, state, and federal officials. It’s really easy – start a spreadsheet, write letters, and keep track of responses. Believe it or not, elected officials do listen, because they have to be held accountable for their actions or they may not get re-elected! You might be surprised – I’ve received more than one handwritten response to my letters!
Don’t just gripe about the political situation – be the change. Hold elected officials accountable. Discuss important issues with family and friends. Read about social issues – and by read, I mean ignore Facebook memes and actually read credible sources.
Proverbs 12:22 (NRSV): Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io