To Tell the Truth

To Tell the Truth by Mary E. Latela, January 23, 2017

Finally, a growing number of people agree that lying is not okay. As a result of the heated election period, those who listen closely have noticed that the truth cannot be assured.

What is a lie? According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, lying is a complex subject. In early religion classes, a child is taught that one of the directives requires: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” which means you must not lie.

We often use euphemisms to discuss heavy topics. Instead of saying “death” we might say “passes away” or “has passed” or “has gone home to God.”

Sissela Bok, brilliant ethicist, published a striking book:  Lying and Moral Choice in Private and Public Life. It was popular in the academic and political spheres. (1978) Lying remains in print today, nearly thirty years after its initial publication, and is widely used in the classroom. Its continuing broad readership pays tribute to the book’s lucidity and good sense. According to :, Bok’s work has no peer as a serious treatment of a central, but neglected, dimension of moral life.
Telling lies is nearly always morally wrong. Repeated name-calling, boldface untruths, and exaggerations are modes of lying. When our political leaders lie, what should our reaction be? Not to listen… discount whatever that individual says … It is not necessary for the private citizen to fact check information from the government, corporations, churches and institutions of higher learning.

Finally, what if your job situation depends on passing on lies from your superior to others, individuals and groups? Start seeking other employment.

Royalty Free RF Clipart Illustration Of A Boy Sitting And Touching His Growing Liar Nose

(royalty-free clipart)


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From the Left

FIRST THOUGHTS Wednesday January 11, 2017 by Mary E. Latela

I recall that Julia Cameron suggested a morning exercise of about 10 minutes of free writing. As I woke up, so many thoughts blossomed. I am captivated by the story of The Barefoot Lawyer about which I will later write. At the same time, TV buzzes as members of the new Cabinet are being questioned by the committee.

But last night, I experienced one of those rare and beautiful moments while watching and listening to President Obama’s Farewell Address.

I feel so blessed to be an American on this night January 10, 2015, as President Obama ends his term of office. The subject was democracy.  See the quiet dignity of people at work. See the power of teachers to mold and support bright children with challenging, powerful goal. Notice the way contentment comes to ordinary people working together to demand it.

This is our living experiment in self-government and there is nothing like it. Our strength comes from the power of free people. We come from a more perfect union and we are called to expand and solidify that union.

We have individual goals and dreams – unalienable rights. And we have shared goals and dreams – to work together for the greater good for the common good.

Those who fought on the beaches of OMAHA, Iwo Jima, Iran, Afghanistan – fought to build upon our commitment to democracy. People still march on Selma, the freedom riders, those who to this very day “march to Jerusalem” – to a state of comfortable, true friendship, free of deep animosity, loathe to take up arms.

We have the capacity to change. Otherwise, our first Fathers might not have been so dedicated to forming this morning perfect union. Democracy is not a simple path or a simple goal, because it means that ALL, not just SOME will participate and reap the benefits of neighbor plus neighbor, protection from vile selfishness.

We are called to be citizens, first. Democracy involves understanding that this government by the people, of the people, and  for the people, shall not perish as long as we look around, look from side to side, and help one another to achieve their most precious goals.

It’s true. We need to awaken to any attempts to weaken our foundation of democracy.

At the end of last evening’s magnetic talk, there were tears, there were farewells from all – the first family – Barack, Michele, their daughter, and Joe and Jill Biden – and the many who took in this precious event. For this brief moment in time, all is well, and hope is evident.

In our heart of hearts we believe that together, working for justice, helping other lands where justice and denigration of citizens has halted progress, forging dangerous alliances, built on might and not on community, we must remember who we are. We are not the world’s police force. We are – as it were – guides for the blind, teachers for the uneducated, role models for our young people, sometimes lost in a sea of violence and fear. We live and work in the real world, and little by little, we can change our own self-interests, widen into compassion for all.

Yes, WE CAN!


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A Child Comes to Us

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, December 25, 2016

Christmas is full of paradoxes. A baby is born of a poor couple, far from home,
in the bustle of a registration or census.
Bethlehem is the city of the family of Joseph, a carpenter, and his espoused is
Mary, pregnant with child.

In ordinary times, she would give birth at home, surrounded by her mother and aunts, her brothers and uncles seeing to the fire and water, walking, walking, breathing in this miracle, filling their lungs, emptying them to catch the breath of God.

When the time is right, the baby is borne, and Mary and Joseph, huddled in a shed –
because the inn has not room for them, are filled with intense love, passion, unity, wholeness, oneness. The “holy family” is not closed to visitors; they are open still to you and me.

The children are fascinated with the statues. Hannah asks, “Is this Mama Mary?” and hugs the angel form. And baby Jesus is brought out for a moment, otherwise hidden in the closet until Christmas morning. Joseph looks tall and powerful to children, though he is carrying the power of the whole world in his arms. Even the cows, the sheep, move in close. They are named. Young shepherds hush one another at the sight. The sky opens up to the power of the wind and the warmth, God’s protection of all Creation.

A Child is Born in Bethlehem, Alleluia!

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Already; Not Yet

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Reflection by Mary E. Latela, December 24, 2016 It is Christmas Eve, 2016, and I have just returned from a candlelight Service with Pastor Bradford Bray preaching a stunning sermon on the birth of Jesus, and how that is a sign of … Continue reading

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A Pearl More Precious

A Pearl More  Precious.  Reflection by Mary E. Latela. December, 2016


Seventy-five years ago, on December 7th, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces.

Tonight, I watched “Tora!Tora!Tora!” again. I know the history and the shock of being attacked with malice, without warning, and I felt cold, wrapped in a quilt, sipping hot tea.  After a while I felt that I could not move – each blast, the fire balls, the looks of perfect shock on the faces of the American troops as they realized what was happening. The problem for the brass was that the Japanese had discussed this invasion, but they came too early. They started the desecration forty five minutes before notice went through to Washington.

With the heavy blow to American troops, and the over-enthusiastic glee of some of the Japanese pilots, the Commander in Chief, said, “Enough.”  They went home.   That might have looked like retreat to any of us, but that Commander had broken the trust that comes with great power. He failed to warn. And world treaties do not easily forgive.

I know this is film, but I’ve read enough and lived enough to know that real life can teach you this lesson on being unprepared to have your world tossed upside down, and your life upended.  On September 11th, I felt alone, though we were all there, together, hanging on to the knowledge of being part of a community of human persons. That felt so good and right, that the suggestion of  prompt closure was a slap, sudden, bracing, almost casual.

They say that war is hell. I say, if there is a hell, it must be loss, loss of feeling, loss of connection, loss of hope.  All those months when Europe was in the dark, and so Americans had no idea what was going on there, were torture for those who had come here so recently, who had found refuge here, and then realized that their fears came with them.

Every piece of the jigsaw puzzle of world peace needs a fresh shining, a reexamination. We want our kids to feel safe and we surely want to keep safe in this troubling world. The pearl is replaced with hope.


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A Good Man ~ John Herschel Glenn


A Good Man. Reflection by Mary E. Latela, December 9, 2016

Poets, politicians, scientists, adventurers, cobblers, tinkers – are the stronghold upon which we build our hopes and dreams. Ralph Waldo Emerson would have recognized him,  would have been proud to know him. He wrote:

“To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children,
to leave the world a better place,
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived,
this is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday John Glenn died – the facts?

In memoriam: John Glenn.
The first American to orbit Earth died on Thursday at 95.
Mr. Glenn also had a decades-long career as a U.S. senator from Ohio. At 77, he got his wish to return to orbit and became the oldest person to go into space.
Despite his incredible achievements, he often played down his heroic status. “I don’t think of myself that way,” he said in an interview a few years ago. “I get up each day and have the same problems others have at my age.”

This simple description covers a life of service, of commitment to God and family and country. A man grows not only in major events, but in the everyday promise to care for wife and family, to work honestly, to give the other guy credit, to be on the team, to go into space and return richer by far. A good man. We are blessed to have know him, even from afar. We are called to be friends, brothers and sisters, working out our destiny on this earth not by acquiring riches, but by bringing a bit of greatness into each day.

 God go with you.




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Trump & his ‘extra-constitutional’ view of the Presidency

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, December 3, 2016.

Some days ago, I wrote about democracy and in particular about the need for honesty and integrity as signposts to keep us on the straight and narrow path of justice. I thought I’d said enough, until the royal blue and white sash sailed across my computer screen and slapped me on the face.

GOP rep: Trump has ‘extra-constitutional’ view of presidency

Now I realize that this does not mean that our President-elect has a special dose of understanding the Constitution and the way our government works. No, it’s not about an extra scoop of mocha chip or vanilla. It is, seriously, about answering the question, “Art you in or out?

Plainly, Mr. Trump does not always use the Constitution as a guide, but as a sort of far away wispy idea which dares him to knock it down. He thinks and he acts as if the constitution is “irrelevant” “unnecessary” or “only as valuable as the land it’s sitting on.”

Isn’t this a little frightening? Spare us another pathetic “Let’s give him more time.” There is a kernel of truth: in business, you’re not always checking whether your decisions make money or policy, whether you are storing up more prestige in high circles or more clout to speak out for the marginalized. Michigan  Rep Justin Amash, founder of the House Liberty Caucus, says it isn’t worrisome. Given time, all will be well. 

As a creative worrier, I know that it is very easy to slide down the ego ladder when you are not grounded in principles which guide your thinking and acting. And for the man or woman who will take the Oath of Office of President of the United States, it is Necessary, not optional, to consider seriously the history of this nation, the great minds which wrote down the rules and values, and the many dedicated persons who remind us why we are here, and what we call ourselves a great Nation.  


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Intermission ~ Holy Week

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, November 30, 2016


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What If Time Stops?

Reflection by Mary E. Latela, 11.22.16

Of course, I remember. I remember every detail.

I was a college freshman, down in the commuter lounge waiting for friends and lunch.

I remembered to call Aunt Rose to say “Happy Birthday!” She responded quietly, “You haven’t heard, then. The president has been shot.”

“What? How is he?”

“Walter Cronkite came on and said it happened in Dallas. We’re waiting…….. oh no!. The President is dead.”

As the others filed into the lounge, the word spread. Some were weeping. Others hugged, because, suddenly, the world seemed too cold. A strange hush and a noisy frenzy mixed together. Someone suggested going to the chapel to pray. I joined them, but I couldn’t see what good prayer would do. President Kennedy, our bright hope, was gone. I was young enough to believe in a hero – such an intelligent, handsome, family man, who spoke with clarity and that Boston accent he’d never worked to erase.

I was nineteen, and college was my new safe place, my home away from home. I studied day and night, spent weekends with the books, stopped by to see Grandma every Sunday. I was majoring in Chemistry, because they said it was easy to get scholarships. This was during that initial excitement following this President’s promise to reach the moon by the end of the decade.

Stephen King wrote a chilling time-twister called 11/22/63. If someone could break through time, perhaps history could be altered to keep our President alive, to keep us from feeling lonely. I think it’s a fantastic work, injecting the promise of time travel into what turned out to be a national tragedy.

I remember Jackie Kennedy in her pink Chanel suit, blood spattered everywhere. She was silent as the oath of office was taken by Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson, whom we did not know at all. Then we gathered at home, sat in the living room viewing the proceedings. We knew Catholic funerals, but this was more pomp and extravagance than we had ever seen. It was like a very strange wedding, all white and gold, all serious and solemn.

Time passed slowly as we tried to eat, sleep, talk, do the wash, iron clothes, and talk on the phone. Sleep was elusive, but there was no need to rest, since we played – over and over – the scenes which had turned our day, turned our lives, upside down.  In the following days and weeks, I was so sad, and yet, I could not change the truth. We would not see John Kennedy again.

When I returned to the Northern Plains some decades later, I still had a heaviness around my heart. I still wished I could rewrite history. I still wished that my brush with hope – so rare for such a sad young woman – would take me over and allow me to really say farewell to people who had passed away, to childhood, to hope, to the sweetness that comes from knowing that tomorrow will be a better day.


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The Fear of Being Unneeded

Dalai Lama: Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded

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