Faithfully Yours - Knowing everything won’t change anything


Neil Strohschein
The Neepawa Banner & Press

October 26, 2017 was a day to which conspiracy theorists had long looked forward. That was the day when, according to legislation enacted 25 years earlier, all documents regarding the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy were to be released. As the day approached, the question on everyone’s mind was: “What, if anything, will we learn about this tragedy that we don’t already know?” As it turned out, not much.

Investigations, judicial inquiries and other hearings can only discover what the witnesses agree to share. While a great deal of information on the Kennedy assassination has been collected, many secrets that could give us the whole story of what actually happened that day died when those who were keeping them also died. Others may still be hidden in the few documents that were withheld for national security reasons. Will we ever know the full story? I doubt it.

The JFK murder was a horrible tragedy. A man who was so popular with his people was killed before he could even begin to do what he had been elected to do. But something else died that day. The day Kennedy died was the beginning of the end of people’s ability to believe the words of and trust the actions of their leaders.

This was fueled in part by those who believed that for reasons unknown, people unknown kept key pieces of information from those who investigated the assassination. Most found it hard to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald could have acted alone when he fired the shots from the Texas School Book Depository building. So they began asking questions—who else was involved? Why were they involved? What connections did they have? Those asking the questions, along with others who have been investigating this story for decades, were hoping that the documents released on October 26 would some answers.

Even if they did, knowing everything won’t change anything. We can’t undo history. The events of November, 1963, and tragedies that have happened since then—the 9/11 attacks, the spread of terrorism, crime, violence, war, the on-going revelations concerning sexual abuse of minors and issues surrounding Canada’s residential schools--all have left scars that may never fully heal.

The best we can do is learn from these events and do all we can to keep them from happening again. This is where those who lead us must take the initiative. They need to realize that while they may not have sown the seed of distrust, they are reaping its fruit and must do what they can to restore strained relationships and rebuild the trust that has been lost.

That will not be easy. It will require every person in a position of leadership to be subject to the highest possible standards of integrity, honesty and transparency. Each leader must set those standards personally and then exercise self-discipline to ensure they are met or exceeded.

There is still time to stop further erosion of people’s ability to trust their leaders from taking place. The foundations have not yet been destroyed. There is a spirit of good will and an eagerness to rebuild fractured relationships between those who lead and those who follow.

But those opportunities will not last forever. The work that needs to be done must begin now. As private citizens, we need to know that our leaders are putting us, our needs and our best interests ahead of their own agendas. Then it will be much easier to follow them in times of crisis.