Our country’s institutions are suffering from a crisis of transparency—or rather, the lack thereof. Everyone likes to pay lip service to transparency, but it is amazing how few actually follow through on those proclaimed values.
Let’s start by pointing out why transparency is so important. Any group, from a small team up to our whole society, has to be built on trust. That’s how we transcend being just a collection of individuals and become something more, when we trust one another to do what needs to be done, and we work together. If I don’t trust my teammate, then I have to do it all myself. But I can do a lot more with a teammate that I trust than I can by myself! Trust is built on transparency. If someone is not telling me the truth, or they are hiding things from me, then it is impossible to trust them. The group starts to break down. When we are open and transparent and honest about what we’re doing, good things happen.
But wherever you look, transparency seems to be at an all-time low.
Today, transparency in government is a punchline. It seems like the more a politician talks about transparency during election season, the less important transparency will be during his or her term in office. Very few people want to tell the American people the truth about what problems we face.
In business, there are just as many hucksters and charlatans as ever. They have never actually provided any real value to anyone, but they lure in hardworking people with promises of easy success and fast fortunes. They teach people to look at how to get a dollar first, without ever thinking about how to solve a real problem in the customer’s life. The business becomes all about sustaining itself and getting as much money as fast as possible, instead of creating a sustainable business that helps others and creates value for other people. For those companies, talking about the customer and his or her problems is just a marketing ploy to get you in the door, instead of the driving purpose and mission of the business. That’s not transparency.
And in the NFL, where I played for 18 years, there is a complete lack of transparency. The recent Ray Rice saga is just the latest, most visible example, but this is nothing new for the NFL. The league covered up the effect of concussions on NFL players for decades, has covered up the use of performance enhancing drugs and pain medication, has covered up anything that might distract people from just sitting back to enjoy the game on Sunday. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference last week to talk about the league’s domestic violence policy was a master class in saying nothing and avoiding the problem. That’s not transparency.
Put it all together, and it makes me angry. I’m angry that these people are so selfish and short-sighted, worrying only about instant gratification. They want to keep the gravy train rolling without actually taking on the very real problems we face.
That’s not what I believe in. That’s not what America is about. We are about taking on our problems head-on. Our country is built on the idea that together we can figure out the answers to any problem, but in order to solve them people first have to be honest and transparent about what those problems are.
Tell your friends and family to join AMAC, to call for real transparency and honesty in this country. That’s the only way we’ll get answers.