Step Five:  We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

The spiritual principle of Step Five is Integrity.  C.S. Lewis said, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”  In simple terms, integrity is knowing right from wrong and acting in harmony with that knowledge.

Some people look at this step as a confession – – a step to be taken with a priest or clergyman. Confess your sins, and you’ll be forgiven!  That’s not what this step is about.  The key to Step Five is discovery of the exact nature of our wrongs, not just admission of the wrong itself.  If we don’t know what factors contributed to the mistake, we may be doomed to repeat it.

Transparency is a buzz word, and we’ll hear it a lot this election year.  Transparency happens when we clearly see the details.  It’s a key component of integrity.  An opaque or filtered point of view leads to misinformation and mistrust.  Is there transparency in our elections?  Is there transparency in governmental accounting?  Many news stations report what appears to be transparent.  Yet, if you turn the channel, you’ll be watching the same news through a different filter.  This transparency, or lack thereof, has caused a divide in this country.

Step Four, as I noted in a prior piece, asked us to take a moral inventory of our government.  I’d like to apply Step Five to one such issue:  The East Palestine Ohio Train Derailment.  On the evening of February 3, 2023, in East Palestine, Ohio, a Norfolk Southern train derailed and a fire erupted.  Eleven of the train cars contained hazardous materials, most notably vinyl chloride.  While these cars have pressure relief devices, it was still determined to conduct a controlled burn to prevent an explosion.  This burned for 2 days sending hazardous plumes of smoke into the air, contaminating the water and soil. Over 2,000 people were evacuated.  (Photo is from The New York Times).

Within a few weeks, EPA tests of air and water quality were conducted, and residents were advised it was safe to return to their homes.  Although many residents were concerned with evidence to the contrary, what choice did they have?  Could they quit their jobs, sell their homes, and start a new life elsewhere?  Who would buy a home in such a controversial condition?  Faced with the rhetoric of “trust the science,” is there transparency for citizens to make educated decisions about the health and safety of their families.  Will a child be safe playing in a dirt field near the accident?  Should you be drinking bottled water?   Eleven months later, we still do not have a final report.  What if that was your neighborhood?  Would you still just “trust the science?”  To help answer these questions, take a look at this video:  RFK Jr. Points Finger At Agency Responsible For Ohio Toxic Train Wreck (

I draw this example to your attention for a couple of reasons. First, almost everyone lives in a town that has a train going through it.  This could happen to you or me.  Secondly, because there are so many factors to consider, the exact details matter.  The health and welfare of the residents is a major concern, but what exactly caused the accident?  Could this happen again?  How safe are the railways?  Should train cars full of vinyl chloride or other hazardous materials be transported through residential areas?  Yes, it’s a major accident, but unless we discover the exact nature of what went wrong, it will simply be a news story that everyone forgets.  Everyone except those who live there.

This phrase – trust the science – is it transparent or is it a form of gaslighting? Does it hold up when one sees chemicals in the water alongside dead fish or smells toxins in their homes so strong they become ill?  A resident asked an EPA home inspector as he handed her the All Clear Report, “But what’s that smell?  I know it’s not a normal smell in my home.”  His response was, “Smell?  Well people have smells in their homes.” He shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know.”  I wouldn’t have been satisfied with that answer either.

Will the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, ever know the full story, or will it unfold as so many others have with an increase in cancer rates in years to come?  Will the EPA take responsibility for not having enough information to make those determinations about safety?  Will the CDC acknowledge they didn’t know enough about the effects of toxic vinyl chloride entering the lungs of children?  Will Norfolk Southern take responsibility for the cuts to safety protocol they’ve made over the last decade?  Will anyone be transparent?  Does anyone have integrity?

YES!  At least one person does. As he has so many times in the past, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is taking on agency capture.  Here are his previous comments about the West Virginia Appalachian area and coal mining.  I think they apply to this situation also.

“So wherever you see large-scale destruction of the environment, you’ll see the disappearance of public participation at the local level. Individuals who want to participate in decisions that determine the destinies of their community are deprived of that. Transparency in government, which is the hallmark of democracy, disappears. You’ll see the capture of the agencies that are supposed to be protecting Americans from pollution. Instead, those agencies, like the West Virgina Department of Power, become the instrumentalities, the sock puppets of the very industries that they’re supposed to be regulating.”

I think it’s time we admitted to the God of our understanding, to ourselves, and to every other human being that will listen, our system of government is broken. We need the transparency and integrity of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as President to heal this nation.  Go to and sign the petition to get Bobby on the ballot for your state.


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