Every day during this political season, we are bombarded by political ads. Most of them blasting the opposing candidate and most of them telling out-right lies about that person! Isn’t it tiring? Why wouldn’t telling the truth work? Do they believe that we are so ignorant that we do not know or that they will not be vetted in the news media?
For the Cherokee, to lie was unthinkable. In fact, lying was punishable by death! Charles Alexander Eastman (1858-1939), a Native American Physician and writer, wrote, “Such is the importance of our honor and our word, that in the early days, lying was a capital offense…The deliberate liar is capable of committing any crime behind the screen of cowardly untruth and double dealing….[He was] summarily put to death that the evil may go no further.”
Well, that would change things, wouldn’t it? The ancient Cherokee believed that you told the truth or you remained silent. Sort of like Mother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” For the ancient Cherokee, silence was valued also. Speaking was a privilege not to be abused. It was sometimes confounding for the white man who tried to “deal” with Native Americans. Benjamin Franklin put it this way:
“The politeness of these savages in conversation is indeed carried to excess, since it does not permit them to contradict or deny the truth of what is asserted in their presence. By this means they indeed avoid disputes, but then it becomes difficult to know their minds, or what impression you make upon them. The missionaries who have attempted to convert them to Christianity, all complain of this as one of the great difficulties of their mission. The Indians hear with patience the truths of the Gospel explained to them and give their usual tokens of assent and approbation; you would think they were convinced. No such matter. It is mere civility.”
So, what if political ads had to follow the same restrictions put on drug ads and had to state the facts and repercussions at the end of the ad? At least then, we could get a big laugh out of it like we do the drug ads!