HERE'S AN antidote for this, Our Age of Endless Corruption: The Luzerne County "Diogenes Project."
Let's look for the honest people we all – well, most of us – still believe exist. It's almost a cliche of the area: "strong work ethic," "loyal," "devoted," "committed."
Well, maybe not that last one. With so many public officials "committed" to prison, the word has developed a cutting connotation.
We know they're out there: the honest person who won't keep the extra money when a clerk miscounts change, who will always try to locate the owner of a lost wallet, who attends church not out of guilt or pride, but because the rite provides a profound and restorative peace in an uncertain world. Or the person who doesn't attend church at all, but sure acts that way.
The person who has sacrificed self to family and friends daily, and if asked why, would shrug with honest bewilderment at the very idea of posing the question. Oh, yes, they exist. They may be growing a little sparser and harder to find, but they unequivocally exist. I only need look at my mother to know that. (Hi mom!)
They are not flawless; no human is. They are merely less flawed, and less flawed in very important ways.
They may occasionally succumb to some charlatan who sells a convincing canard, but it will never prompt an act of inequity -- their moral compasses are true and, more importantly, self-correcting.
Blinded zealots need not apply. It is easy to live the moral life when the morals are untested. One example: Anti-gays who never had a loved one "come out" probably need not apply, though the important thing here is to avoid preconceptions and get to really know the person.
Those running for or holding public office probably shouldn't bother, either, not simply because others will suspect self-aggrandizement, but because the very act would negate the nomination.
And remember newspapers have resources for checking facts, and I will use them. Journalists certainly make mistakes (it's that human thing, again), but we scrutinize by profession and training.
Which is, incidentally, something the people I'm talking about would want us to do before casting serious judgment upon another.
Diogenes, by the way, was the Greek philosopher best known for walking around with a lantern looking for "an honest man." By at least one account, Plato dubbed Diogenes "a Socrates gone mad."
He was a "cynic" when the word meant a school of philosophy, not a snickering, constantly critical person.
Diogenes is famous for undercutting conventions. Now that corruption has become "conventional" in Luzerne County, that seems a meaningful goal.
So point me to the person you believe has proven repeatedly to be truly honest and ethical.
If they (and you) convince me (and my editors), I'll write about them. Though be sure that, if said person turns out to be a fake, I'll write about that, too.
Honest people are the best antidote to laments of a "culture of corruption."
If you know them, and if they want to talk, tell me.
They are the anti-venom to corruption's poison, the affirmative answer to the question, "Can this county be redeemed?"