In a system where the fiduciary cannot be trusted to respect their duties, we cannot expect the masses to see the laws as governing them either. I am reminded of a repugnant case I witnessed as a young criminal lawyer years ago. A father was charged with molesting his 10-year-old daughter. When questioned it turned out that the maternal grandfather had also been abusing the child since she was 5. When the father heard this he said, “Ah, I suspected that old coot couldn’t be trusted.”
Somehow this made the father feel better or less guilty of breaching trust with his daughter, because he felt that someone else had done the same. Not only had the father not protected his daughter from the grandfather, but he somehow rationalised the grandfather’s offence as permission for him to offend as well. Let that one settle in for a moment. Taking because others are, is actually a common convention in human thinking.
Many people are mocking and criticizing the “Occupy” protestors for being weak and unorganized. But the “Occupiers” are the first to admit they are disenfranchised as individuals, hence their resolve to come together and protest what they rightly preceive as systemic unfairness and inequality before the law. What frustrates me is that still today–after all that has and is still unfolding in the world–so few mainstream folks are criticizing the powerful actors and culprits that caused our current problems.
This story recently covered by CBS is a key piece in the breakdown of our global economy and public trust. Justice must not only be done, for a democracy to function, justice must also be seen to be done. It is not ok that those who are trusted to represent others take for themselves first. Leaders who breach trust to profit personally must be denounced. Apathy in the law-abiding public on these key issues are a main reason regulation and prosecution of offenders in our financial system has been virtually non-existent over the past few years. The people in the inner circle have been putting themselves first for so long and calling it service, that they are mostly too far gone to see the error of their ways. This is a key reason the global economy is now faltering. We need authentic leaders now more than ever. If your browser does not see the clips below, look here.