Logging on to gazette.com Friday, one encountered men in positions of leadership thrust into the spotlight for charges of public misconduct. Grown men chosen to improve our standards are said to have lowered them. All must be assumed innocent of these misdeeds, but their potential guilt is troubling nonetheless.
The top headlines read:
- "Accusations cloud Sheriff Terry Maketa's future: Commanders' complaint alleges affairs, budget improprieties."
A thorough Gazette investigation raises questions about the sheriff - the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the state's most populous county - who has been linked to alleged intimate relationships with multiple female employees. The allegations were made formally to the El Paso County Commission by three ranking Sheriff's Office employees.
The sheriff is married.
The Gazette found hundreds of texts and emails that bolster allegations of affairs. Staff writer Dave Philipps found abundant evidence that reveals a hostile work environment designed to hide alleged improprieties.
- "Woodland Park mayor arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a child."
We have no idea whether this charge is true. We only know it's troubling to see a local mayor holding up his book-in sign just before he's put in a cage. It's troubling to think a person given so much authority by voters might have harmed a child. Hope and pray it's not true.
- "Man arrested in Colorado Springs predator case is medic assigned to 10th Special Forces."
If this man did what authorities claim, it's the third example in one day - in just one community - of a powerful man possibly abusing the public's trust. If it's true, he does a disservice to the vast majority of military personnel who serve this country with honor.
The suspect is Sgt. 1st Class Duston Ridner, 43. Colorado Springs police believe he's involved in 13 incidents in which a man drove a red pickup and offered to pay young women to watch him pleasure himself.
Americans are bombarded with headlines of teachers, clergy, politicians, business leaders and even law enforcement officers abusing the public's trust. Soon we'll be so jaded it might not make the news.
Humans have attended churches, synagogues, temples and mosques throughout the ages. Each provides wisdom of sacred texts, imbuing morality from above.
From the dawn of humanity, societies have turned on moral teachings. They are considered ignorant, outdated and no fun at all. Besides, so many of these institutions harbor immorality among their leaders.
Disorder, masquerading as an attractive form of freedom, challenges moral codes. Do unto others whatever makes you feel good.
This mayhem eventually reminds us of the need to revisit those old books. Even when presented in flawed human institutions, the teachings are sound. That's why religion ebbs and flows.
Though major religions use a variety of scripts to teach of different gods, all preach the Golden Rule - a belief that we should be good to one another. We should treat others with the dignity and respect we'd prescribe for ourselves.
It means we play by a common set of rules. It means we don't cheat on spouses, or exploit others for sexual gratification outside the confines of commitment and love. It means we're good to employees, children and others who depend on us.
No major religion allows for the behaviors alleged in The Gazette and gazette.com. Those old scriptures and beliefs may seem like remnants of an ignorant bygone age. But as our headlines degenerate, they'll appear once again as instructions for an enlightened and civilized future.