In the August 16, 2006 editorial I submitted to the Beacon I wrote the following comments. In
light of recent developments reported in the Sept 9th and 10th RMN regarding some high level
Commerce City officials I think a review of my article will be useful to our community.
A simple state of vigilance.
“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable
to abuse” James Madison, the fourth President of the US. At times it was said he was the “Father of the
Constitution”, however President Madison let it be known that the Constitution, “was not the off-spring of
a single brain, but the work of many heads and many hands”. Needless to say he was a man of great
wisdom and knowledge and his assessment of power was right on the mark.
The abuse and/or misuse of power are not only a facet of individuals serving in government, but transcend
every segment of our society. I wonder at times in reading of the many scandals disseminated in the media
if the individuals began by plotting the circumstances that placed them in the public eye. The late 1990
saw headlines that engulfed these various segment of our society in one kind of scandal or another.
Corporate giants the likes of Enron, Kmart, locally Qwest, WorldCom and my favorite the accounting firm
of Arthur Anderson.
Included in the morass of individuals or agencies in the public’s attention for their actions were some in
the religious community. Scandals in that realm brought down a number of televangelist, powerful church
leaders as well as the bankruptcy of a good many dioceses because of individuals who forgot perhaps they
were human and not infallible.
Recently within the educational system, and thank goodness not in our district, we are seeing situations
where not only unscrupulous male teacher would take advantage of impressionable young female students,
but we are seeing an alarming number of female teachers reaching into the lives of unsuspecting and
equally impressionable male students. Who in my lifetime would have imagined this kind of thing to take
place, but it now seems more commonplace. We try to safe guard our children from online predators,
bullying by fellow students, but as we have seen by some headlines these predators are not just online. Just
as we attempt to educate our children to safeguard themselves from these situations, so we must also
educate the community from the abuses of power and trust.
In government we have the ever-famous “Gates” which from my memory started off with Watergate, which
brought down the Presidency of Richard Nixon. If leaders did not learn from that situation, and it appears
that they did not as we have seen an endless numbers of political figures fall from grace at all levels of
government. The problem with all of these individuals was not so much their action but the fact everyone
one of them was human.
The list goes on and on, no one is immune from slipping into the grips of some kind of scandal or another.
This is why we must be constantly vigilant in watching the actions of one another and in particular those
in position of trust and power. Arthur Anderson, an 89-year-old accounting firm now finds itself a shell of
its one powerful self. It let go 7000 employees, sold many of its practices in the US and lost over 650 of its
2300 public audit clients. Not even an outfit as prestige’s as the Anderson firm is immune from making
mistakes, so when we ask for accountability, this is not to point an accusatory finger but taking one more
precaution in a system run by humans.
So who is the victim in all of this? Employees, who lost pension plans and the safety net of their 401K
plans. Countless individuals who live with the guilt of the actions of unrighteous man of trust in there
various ministries. Children who lost their chance at innocence because of an infatuation with the
individual who was entrusted to teach and guide them. I must also include the public who because of the
print, radio and television media were mislead with blatantly false stories so as to shore up their ratings.
Blind faith is exactly as it states, blind. While trust and loyalty are noble attributes, they must be tempered
by the reality we do not live in a perfect society. Absolutes have been clouded in a mass of gray areas where
right and wrong are justified with the feeling that the ends justifies the means. Blaise Pascal, noted
mathematician and philosopher, stated “Our nature consists in movement; absolute rest is death”. While
we can have some assurance believing we can trust those we seek to lead us, individual safety rest in
maintaining a constant state of vigilance.