Archive for October, 2013

Some thoughts about Integrity — Picking the Lesser Evil

Have I missed something?  Did those who read ghostwritten speeches on teleprompters even mention the word WAR?  The Economy’s been discussed and debated for years now – and all over the map – with rare mention of its leading expense. Taxes have been mentioned now and then, of course, though most of them go for the war(s).  Interesting.

P. W. Bridgman was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist with a philosophical bent. In his 1959 book, The Way Things Are, he wondered if it is even possible to live a life of integrity with the present make-up of society. He wrote: “If the contemporary individual wants to live a life of intellectual integrity he pretty much has to do it on his own. Society as a whole is not interested in this and in fact is often positively hostile.”  It seems to me, too, that language itself has been so violated and compromised that truth-telling is nearly impossible.  It’s always easier to lie than to tell the truth, and there are few incentives for integrity.

Therefore, we speak of voting for “the lesser evil.”  Therefore we feel entirely disillusioned, and we no longer expect honesty from the warring politicians. We watch with fascination – which the media stir up from even the most reluctant of us who are sworn not to waste our time with futilities.  Josef Goebbels himself couldn’t do a better job of brainwashing us into total submission.  We are going to admire and obey — or resent and rage — against the winner of the propaganda fireworks, but we’ll never really trust him.

“Considerations of the common good” will always be a myth. We have long since accepted the most nonsensical of pretentions:  we are willing to imagine, as with children hearing a fairy tale, that those who read from teleprompters statements assembled by dozens of researchers, consultants, pollsters, and ghostwriters are speaking deeply felt convictions.  As Holden Caulfield would remind us, it’s all phony.

There are many realities the public – and elected representatives — know but will not admit.  Naturally they know that it is foolish to risk their lives going about their daily activities vulnerable to any berzerker who goes roaming with an assault rifle.  But they are content to abide with the fictive assurance that an Eighteenth Century document insists that it be so.

I quote P. W. Bridgman again:  “…the individual must be prevented at all costs from saying out loud” many of our most obvious truths. “The political arena is no place for the practice of individual integrity…A wilful refusal to see things as they are is a more acceptable compromise than to be a martyr for integrity.”

Copyright (c) 2013 by David Ray    www.davidraypoet.com

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