On Dishing it Out

Published: January 1, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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In the cut-throat world of fine Parisian dining, the food critic is King.  In the Pixar movie Ratatouille, Anton Ego (superbly voiced by Peter O’Toole), is Emperor!  “The Grim Eater” as he is known, strikes fear into the hearts of anyone even thinking about offering a new dish without his “divine” approval.

In my little niche of essays on ethics, I strive to offer more than “just desserts” for good and bad behavior, I aspire to bring about a greater awareness of the importance ethics plays in our lives and I’m pleased when readers send me their own thoughts.

Hope in a Time of Uncertainty(Dec. 28) brought several responses. “…excellent essay,” writes Mo.  “But… why weren’t essays like yours being [written] during the eight years of Bush Bashing?”

Looking into my 2008 archives, I came across a few high-handed remarks that I discussed, but overall, I confess to a lack of awareness of any grossly contemptible comments against President Bush.

“You’re right, Mo!,” I wrote. “No ONE should be doing it!”

“Nice try Jim,” she wrote back, “but that doesn’t cut it.  Why aren’t there examples of all the vicious, hateful, scary things that were said for eight years during the Bush years? …….eight freakin’ years and I bet you didn’t write one word about it, nor did anyone else on the left.  Mo”

Mo seems to suggest that I may have a bias or agenda to my writings when it comes to politicians or political discourse.  The only agenda I carry is ethics.  I endeavor to point out the good, the bad and the ugly from all sides, and I encourage anyone to hold my feet to the fire if they believe that I am being inaccurate or unfair.

On November 18 (The End of the Road), I wrote that Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson was finally convicted of 11 counts of corruption.  I wrote about Republican Joseph Cao, The Conscience of Cao (Nov. 9) “the first congressman of Vietnamese heritage and a strong social conservative,” who replaced Jefferson in the House.

Last October (12 and 19) I took Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel to task over his failure to “…report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets from 2002 through 2006,” (as reported in The New York Times, Oct. 9.)

Clearly, lack of trust in elected officials is a recurring theme on this site. One reader offered this suggestion:  “How about an ‘Ethical Solutions to America’s Problems’ link? Anyone with ideas about how to solve… Republicans vs. Democrats vs. the American people… should write you and you should forward them to congress… No one is happy about this, but the politicians won’t fix it.”

Great idea!  Send me your “Ethical Solutions to America’s Problems.” I will compile, edit and send them in a personal e-mail to every member of Congress as well as the White House.

Nevertheless, politicians are not the only targets of this site. This past year, I’ve written about hype, hope, heroes and villains. I discussed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Dick Cheney, Walter Cronkite to Cheeta, as well as philosophers from Epictetus to Marcus Aurelius.

On October 16, (Rogue Tutors) I wrote about Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell’s statement to the NCAA regarding an investigation into cheating by some of FSU’s star athletes. Wetherell tried to gloss over the issue by saying, “We don’t really believe they cheated.  They got inappropriate help…”

I took a look at Hollywood director and self-confessed rapist, Roman Polanski (No Brainer, Oct. 2) and the petition signed by a list of celebrities which asked, “…in the name of… friendship between our two countries, we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski.”

However, September’s essay, (Has America Lost its Moral Compass?, Sept. 21) generated the most comments (12) when I discussed “losing the best of ourselves to fear and uncertainty.”

In all these commentaries, I strive to educate, (Speaking of Emperors, Nov. 23); expose, (Hate Speech, Aug. 19); and enlighten, (Heroes, July 22).  I am equally willing to hold a hero’s feet to the fire – as I did when Alex Rodriquez admitted to steroid use after years of lies (Deconstructing the Champ, Feb. 16) – as well as acknowledge when those same heroes turn their lives around as Rodriquez did both on and off the field, (Reconstructing the Champ, Nov.4).

Back to Monday’s Hope, one reader wrote, “It reflects what we all would like to see happen…

“[However] No matter how kind we become, there are sworn enemies out there whose religion sanctions murder, lying and suicide bombing of innocents… I want to think optimistically, as you do, but an overwhelming sense of ‘it is so far out of my control’ that I have found myself… focusing on family, stability and every day joys which include helping others, scholarships for college kids in need, and encouraging our grandchildren who are blessed [with] tremendous talent and have no inkling of the looming dark clouds.

“My black lab Ruby, who adores me, is my role model.  All she needs is love and for her, there is only happiness ahead.”

And therein lies the answer: each of us may not be able to solve the cloud of terror that continues to hang over the country, a shaky economy or world hunger, but all of us can provide service to others through scholarships, food banks, or volunteering our time and talent in our communities. In short,being the example we wish to see in our community, our country and the world.

That’s where the real hope lies.


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