Years ago we bought a pre-owned Chevrolet station wagon and paid extra for the extended warranty that would guarantee the car for another 20,000 miles. Shortly thereafter the engine went belly-up and the company paid to have the engine replaced. Not long after that, and still within the period covered by the warranty, that engine also went belly-up. At that point the company said, in effect, we won’t give you another one because we already did that! So we have not been big fans of Chevrolet since that  time, needless to say, though our personal boycott doesn’t seem to have hurt the company a bit!

Then a few years ago we bought a storm door with a “lifetime guarantee.” Not long thereafter the door showed design flaws and we sought a replacement only to be told “we don’t do that any more.” So it goes. We can’t believe anyone any more, it would appear. Not only do the lies come at us in battalions from on high in the Oval Office, but the notion of truth is questioned on every side; we are told that the truth is what we want it to be. No one seems to remember that truth, trust, and honesty are virtues that were prized possessions not long ago. Take professional sports.

Or, more specifically, take the National Football League. At this writing there are four professional football players under contract who have not shown up for the first day of practice because they want more money. Please note they are already under contract for huge amounts of money — one of them the highest paid player at his position in the league! But they all want more. They want “what they are worth.” In my view they are not worth much — not as human beings at any rate. What happened to giving your word and signing a contract in good faith — and holding to the terms of that contract? These sorts of things seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

The breaking of a contract in professional sports — and semi-professional sports, such as the NCAA — has become a matter of course. We read and hear about players and coaches who simply break their contracts and sign with another team or university — as though signing a new contract would mean anything more these days than signing the old one did. It’s all about honor, an old-fashioned word that has also gone the way of the dinosaurs. It used to be the case that when a man or a woman gave his or her word that was it. A shake of the hands, that’s all it took. One knew that it meant something. In small towns there is still a semblance of that sort of assurance, though one does hear about the occasional exception. There are always exceptions, I suppose.

Honesty, truth, trust, and honor are things that define us as civilized people who need and want to live with one another. Civilization, as Ortega y Gasset said long ago, is above all else the desire to live with one another. But we cannot live together with peace of mind and assurance of our fellows if we cannot take them at their word, if they are not to be trusted.

The fact that the president of this country holds the trophy for the most lies and prevarications in a single hour and still has millions of devoted followers simply points to the fact that it doesn’t seem to matter any more to a great many folks in this country. It has become commonplace as our civilized society struggles to keep its collective head above water. Everyone else does it, why shouldn’t I? One of the oldest rationalizations in the book.

But, it will be said, here we have another old fart complaining about how things just aren’t the same as they once were. Sour grapes. Chicken Little warning us about the falling sky. There may be a smidgen of that in what I say. I am, after all, an old fart, and the sky does look very dark at times. But at the same time, in order to hold this society together at some point we must be able to believe one another, we must be able to know for certain that there are guarantees, that a man’s or a woman’s word is to be trusted. Or what? Or things fall apart.


10 thoughts on “Guaranteed!

  1. Herein lays the crux of our Social Organization: Trust. It does appear true that we live in a time when mankind is too cynical about their Neighbor, forgetting how basically similar they are in kind, desires and simple aspirations for the Good Life. I’d lay the blame on inordinate Ambition as propounded by the paradigm of Competition vs Cooperation, in the end. How is it that we shall transcend the Competitive and Disruptive paradigm of Competition, which holds no allegiance to Trust, but only Advantage? Mankind will hang itself on this Question, or Forgive the transgressions and betrayal of his Neighbor to Transcend Hell and Judgment and Oblivion, and die trying. My God…My God…WHY have U forsaken me?!

    • “Who in the days of his flesh offered up strong prayers and crying unto One who was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.” ~Hebrews 5:7

      • Meaning? A man can do little better in life than to learn HOW to pray, and what to weep over in the House of Mourning, where Wisdom resides in wait for the discerning Soul. Or standing at the Gate of the City cries-out: Come* all ye that yearn for understanding, turn aside from your way that I may give you rest and ye thirst no more.

  2. Good post, Hugh. Yep, the words ‘honour’ and ‘integrity’ have gone by the wayside along with ‘commitment’ and responsibility. An example … my daughter manages a staff of about 25. The turnover rate is high, despite the fact that they pay reasonably well for entry-level jobs. One day last week, a new hire started work, and when Chris came home that night she told me they had already fired the woman on her first day because she napped a few times during the day, and when she was being trained for her new job, she found it more important to be texting on her cell phone! Sigh. I often say it is no longer a world I recognize.

    • Welcome to the new world the melennials! I have good friend and former student who is an attorney in a nearby town. They have been unable to hire a new person despite the fact that they need one desperately because the young people coming out of law schools — and there are MANY of them — want fewer hours and higher pay. Such stories are common these days, sad to say.

      • Yes, sadly it does seem that many are taking classes in arrogance and greed. Whatever happened to ‘work ethics’, ‘commitment’ and ‘responsibility’? I know it isn’t all of them, but it does seem that those who still have those work ethics are in the minority these days. I’m glad I’ve retired, for I wouldn’t have the patience to deal with it all anymore.

      • My younger son was a District Manager for Best Buy for a number of years. He had a deuce of a time finding responsible young men or women to run his stores in the malls. They just aren’t “out there”!

  3. Hugh, timely and well said. We told our kids if they signed up for a sport or band, they needed to complete the season. It was unfair to others not to honor your commitment.

    What is lost on the incumbent in the White House, by reneging on agreements, primarily for optic reasons, makes us a partner that is more difficult to deal with. People will find another partner.

    Two true stories, one occurring now. The now is the other six parties to the Iran Nuclear deal are looking to continue it without the US. We were asked not to pull out even by our own DOD and Intelligence directors.

    The ofher is the TPP went on without with the other ten countries inking the deal. Our participation would have given the US a tool to compete more favorably with China in the Asia-Pacific, but Trump pulled out for optics. He does not like multilateral agreements because the require collaboration, diplomacy and each party ceding something. Trump is a zero-sum, appearance guy. He must look like he is winning. Keith

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