A lot can happen in a week
Sammy Sosa’s cork-laden bat won him widespread speculation on June 3 and an eight-game suspension. The next day home-decorating queen Martha Stewart was indicted on federal charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice in an insider-trading scandal, forcing her to relinquish her post as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. And on June 5 The New York Times accepted resignations from its top two editors, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd, hoping to push past the newspaper’s mishandling of journalistic fraud in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal.
So what do these headlines have in common? They point to our insatiable hunger for truth.
No sooner had the Chicago Cubs home-run king been ejected from last Tuesday night’s game against the New York Yankees, when baseball officials confiscated 76 bats from Sosa’s locker to X-ray for cork. They were searching for the truth. Did this 34-year-old hero, who may have a chance to beat Hank Aaron’s record of 755 home runs, achieve his success legitimately or was this a simple mistake of using a practice bat, as Sosa claims?
Stewart claims that lost business opportunities, declining company stock and legal fees have cost her $400 million. Yet when she stepped aside as chairman and CEO, she said in a statement, “It is the right thing to do.”
And Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger who weeks ago told his staff he would not accept Mr. Raines’s resignation if it were offered apparently had a change of heart. Why?
“The morale of the newsroom is critical,” Sulzberger said in The Times.
It seems staff reporter Blair’s propensity to inflate stories with concocted quotes and phony details roiled the newsroom more than expected and Sulzberger learned public trust had a higher price tag than he cared to admit.
We want the truth. And we don’t just want honest athletes, upright businesses and trustworthy newspapers. We want honest spouses, presidents, teachers, bosses and doctors. We need the truth.
Of course we’re lied to. We quickly lose our innocence and even come to expect government officials, corporate executives, politicians and lawyers to spin, cover up and switch to “damage control.” But we view them with cynicism, rather than admiration.
Truth is not something we create. It already exists. We can invent lies. We can twist and distort and fabricate information. But we cannot create truth. Our search is for that which already exists. Indeed, many spend a lifetime searching for truth.
So what will we do with tomorrow’s headlines?
Will we finally agree with science that a fetus is a human being and deserves constitutional rights? Will we look back on all of civilization and admit that no society has ever accepted a homosexual union because it contradicts a natural order and marriage is defined as a union between a man and woman? Will the frightening epidemic of STDs and subsequent increased rates of depression and suicide among our youth force us to admit that “safe sex” is a government-funded myth and we owe it to our teenagers’ physical and psychological health to teach them abstinence?
We can try to suppress the truth. And it even seems we can get by with it for days, months or even years. But it never stays concealed. It always emerges because truth is always stronger than a lie. Just ask Jayson Blair.