Saturday, September 26, 2015

keeping your word

When I was growing up, there was some value placed on the notion that a man or woman might "keep his/her word." People who could keep their word were those who meant what they said or would do what they promised. These were people to have as allies or friends. They were credible. They had substance. They deserved to be praised as people who would "keep their word." They were not feather merchants or airheads or, more bluntly, assholes.

Without venom, these days I guess I am trying to retrain myself. It is nice to run into people who promise this or that. But better than believing that they will keep their word is the delight that can rise up when they actually do: "What a nice surprise." Don't rely on it, just enjoy it when it actually happens.

A surprise rather than an assumption fulfilled. Praise fogs the picture. Credulity is a step too far ... much as facile skepticism might be.

But then....

Nineteen-year-old Liam Lyburd was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of eight years for planning a massacre at Newcastle College in England that had 'disrespected' him.

Judge Paul Sloan QC commended the member of the public who alerted police to Lyburd's behaviour.
He told Lyburd that, if they had not, "it was only a matter of time before you would have put your plan into action".
"Your emotional coldness and detachment and your lack of empathy to others was self-evident," he said.
Given the cache of weaponry and social-media statements attributed to Lyburd, it seems clear that he was both angry and dangerous. But in point of fact he had not yet done anything. He gave his word ... but had not yet made good on it. Shall people be imprisoned for what they plan or imagine or fantasize about? It's a sticky wicket, but the question deserves to be asked ... just look at the imprisonment system at Guantanamo Bay where the 'might' and 'could' allegations are rife. If my thoughts or associations were the arbiter of my freedom, I hate to think of the dungeon I might be languishing in. The wood-chipper deaths of terrorists like Dick Cheney or Karl Rove is not outside my zone of imagination ... and probably keeps me in line: after all, I don't really want to keep my word.

Can anyone keep their word? How accurate or useful can words be in the end? If growing up is a matter of getting comfortable with the realm in which word lose their purchase, how useful is "keeping your word: or, put another way, "how damaging is not keeping it?"

Just blithering this morning.


  1. Where does one draw the line between conversation and declaration? Art and intention? Role play and preparation? Tea party members have avowed the violent overthrow of our government, even carrying semi-automatic (we hope) rifles to protests on capitol hill. What would king George iii do?

  2. keeping my word is part my tapestry...i take it seriously, remember and follow through. I keep coming across my stupidity though when i realize most people do not...what happened to doing as you say and speaking with sincerity and takeing responsibility for what you say you will do. this world makes me sick