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If All Is Not Lost, Where Is It?
by Frank Kaiser
That old curmudgeon, Andy Rooney, should talk about honesty sometime. He's old enough to wonder where it went.

Don't you? I can remember when a promise was a promise. And kept. When a man's word was his bond, and people could be counted on.

Nowadays, we're bombarded with empty promises. The media is full of 'em (as well as full of it). Every company, institution, and soap box on the shelf shouts hollow vows of what they'll do just for you. Now, with another election coming, hollow promises are being taken to levels heretofore unthinkable, so outrageous even the gods shudder.

Tell you something shocking. I remember when we used to believe everything our government told us. Anyone today under 55 will find this impossible to swallow, but that's a measure of how far we've lapsed. (Or, possibly, wised up.)

Now when our government speaks, we yawn. Or laugh. Or get mad. During and right after the war, none of that would have happened.

Not that skepticism of government isn't healthy for democracy. But I think we've lost something when we can't trust our neighbors and those with whom we do business. We've lost a vital connection with one another, and in the land of no connections, trust is unknown and promises are cheap.

Just trust me on this.

Today the politicians and the government they have spawned expect us to believe their most outrageous lies. Apparently, enough of us do, or they'd change their ways. Political candidates' TV commercials today blatantly insult us with their quarter truths and lying innuendo. Little wonder so many Americans have turned their backs on politics all together. More than half of us, if you judge from polling records. Those expensive, insulting, manipulative commercials are for the rest of us.

Politicians aren't alone. Glib runs deep in America today.

Take the healthcare industry, for example. Didn't they tell you that if you take these pills, or go on that revolting diet, or get out and exercise till you drop, you'd get slim and be exciting? That you'll have sex like you did 40 years ago and your hair will stop falling out? That your teeth will suddenly grow back, your back will be straight, and there's a real good chance that you'll be mistaken for a movie star, or at least one of the members of 'Nsync?

And we believe them.

Suddenly Trivia: Who said: "Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, A medley of extemporanea, And love is a thing that can never go wrong And I am Marie of Romania"? a) Andy Rooney, b) First Earl of Pembrooke c) Dorothy Parker

For the body, that new hair color, lip gloss, and wrinkle cream promises you'll be mistaken for Sophia Loren next time you're at the super market. For the mind, Nirvana is found by simply accessing Amazon.com and ordering Oprah's latest selection.

What ever happened to the promises to listen more, talk less? No one listens anymore. Not that you can talk with anyone these days. The world's too busy multitasking and annoying others with their cell phones and pocket Internet devices. Who wants an actual conversation when there's an eBay auction to bid on.

How many promises do you think you've heard in your lifetime? Jeez! Weren't most of them as barren and misleading as a politician's moral compass.

And those promises of a tranquil, rainbowed old age?

Instead, stairs got much steeper, sidewalks rougher, morning comes earlier, night sooner, and your hours either longer or shorter, depending on which you don't want.

Where is that Rose Garden, anyway?

We live with so many hollow, unfulfilled promises piled upon other hollow, unfulfilled promises, each inaccessible as heaven, remote as salvation. Ever wonder if Saturn's rings aren't just a lot of old, tired promises, out there lost forever?

I'll bet Andy Rooney knows.

© 2000—Frank Kaiser

Suddenly Trivia Answer: c) Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) from "Comments.Suddenly Trivia Answer: c) Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) from "Comments."

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