Truth Justice, and the American Way

I grew up in the 60’s, during a time when the great television shows of the 50’s were over and on reruns. Shows like Lassie, Leave It to Beaver, Make Room for Daddy, The Lone Ranger, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and Rawhide were pretty much on the boob tube day and night.

Newer shows had a much more surreal flair. I am not sure why TV transformed from the real to the unreal, but it did. I Dream of Jeannie, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Gilligan’s Island, to name a few, were seemingly thought up by some dude smoking a hookah, but I digress.
There is one show that was on reruns that makes me pine for the days of yore. It was perhaps the first show built around a comic strip character. It started out as a radio program, according to my research, and mutated into a show for TV. All the little kids loved it, and it always started with this great soliloquy.

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound! 

Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird!
It’s a plane!
It’s Superman! 

Yes, it’s Superman – strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman – defender of law and order. champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

Which brings me to the point of this seemingly pointless blog. What are “Truth, justice, and the American way”?

Pontius Pilate certainly didn’t know what truth was, although he may have been referring to the guiltlessness of Jesus when he said “What is truth?”. Truth is a statement about the way the world actually is. It is my contention that we have almost no truth available to us that comes out of a persons mouth. People will almost always give us a statement about the way they want the world to be. They then search out data to back up their views. Sorry Suckah, that ain’t truth.

Now justice, that is a different kettle of clams. Justice is completely in the eye of the beholder, since we are all guilty of some unjust act. The Roman philosopher Seneca said that

Nothing is more common than for great thieves to ride in triumph while small ones are punished. But let wickedness escape as it may at the bar, it never fails of doing itself justice; for every guilty person is his own hangman.

While I agree with the first part of this statement, the second part just pisses me off. I think we can all agree that when an injustice is done, we’d rather see the bastard punished, than accept that he is torturing himself with guilt over the unjust act.

Digging through a couple of other philosophers, I found this one from Plato that I rather like.

Justice is a human virtue that makes a person self-consistent and good; socially, justice is a social consciousness that makes a society internally harmonious and good.

 Now that I can live with.

Which brings us to the most troubling part of Superman’s credo, the “American Way”. Sadly that also appears to be in the eyes of the beholder. I shall leave it to you, dear reader, to decide for yourself what the “American Way” is. Hopefully it involves Plato’s definition of justice.

—- sound of microphone dropping —-