Thursday, July 26, 2018

prattling ... morality ... stuff

Rattling around like lottery-balls in a cage are two (one?) thoughts:
1. The separation of church and state is a myth.
2. I secretly yearn for some vestige of morality to infuse the current American scene that is so rife with volume substituting for veracity.

Yearning for morality is one of those secrets I hardly dare tell myself. But based on a couple of recent caroms provided by some TV talking heads, I realize I am not alone. And one of the problems that those who yearn for some smidgen of morality face is the track record of the fundamentalist shredding of morality in the Bible machine: Asking for morality squares off against those who conflate Bible and morality and come out waving the Confederate battle flag.

I don't dare ask for decency in social discourse for fear of being labeled an extreme ignoramus... and an old fart into the bargain.

But for me, there was something balm-bastic in the words of Peter Wehner on Public Broadcast System's news hour last night. Balm-bastic in the face of bom-bastic.
A self-governing nation can’t run if you can’t have a common set of facts, if you can’t agree on common realities.What you have got is a man in the White House who is engaged in not just an assault on truth, but an effort to annihilate truth.... Well, what’s different is that we don’t have a run-of-the-mill liar in the White House. We have a pathological liar...."
I think Donald Trump, the effect of all of this is exhausting on the public. I think they’re embarrassed, as was said earlier. And I think they’re ashamed of what’s happening.
Ashamed, embarrassed and exhausted... and willing to come out, and risk the ignoramus label and ask for some common decency and decorum because otherwise people get hurt.

And as to church and state ... morality does not emanate from the Bible alone. What the Bible exudes most pungently is ethics. Morality emanates from individuals and the bathroom mirror. Yes, Virginia, it is possible to be moral and not even own a copy of the Bible. Or own one ... individuals will decide.

But morality -- the thing I am shy to ask for -- cannot be legislated. Morality takes balls ... ethics may take balls as well, but it also succumbs equally to a glib tongue.

Oh well ... I'm prattling and not thinking very well today.

I do wish the sense of "ashamed, embarrassed and exhausted" could be mitigated.


  1. Re: Separation of Church and State.

    I think we living in America are fortunate to have that right codified into law. Some people never wanted that right and some people want to overturn that right. Always have, always will.

    "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." This quote has been attributed variously to Thomas Jefferson, John Philpot Curran and Wendell Phillips. (Phillips is the likeliest author). Regardless of whomever said it first, the quote is absolutely spot on.

    Re: Morality

    You come close to reality: there is morality and there is law. Morality is a recommendation (as often too weak as too strong). Law when combined with justice and compassion is how we can function as a society. I think one would seriously regret imposing some arbitrary morality on anyone, even oneself.

    If you ever get a chance to watch “A Handmaiden’s Tale” (inspired by the book of the same title) I recommend it. It speaks to the imposition of an extremely conservative anachronistic religious doctrine on a society much like the USA.

    1. Note:
      In additional to “eternal” vigilance, those committed to individual rights and freedoms need to keep up some rather rigorous forms of political activism.

      This I believe is our greatest collective failing.

    2. Re: Exhausting Shame and Embarrassment

      How does one view the depth and breadth of the reaction of the American people. If the polls are being done fairly and scientifically, something under 65% of Americans agree that Trump is an Ass Hat, and something over 35% think he’s their savior.

      I suggest we focus on the issues, the legal and the political processes rather than dwelling on our personal emotional sensitivities & sensibilities. At least 35% of our fellow Americans disagree with our feelings. But we have almost 65% of our fellow American who agree with our expectations of good governance.

      That’s something to work with.

      Perhaps you need to sign up with some activists. Any Social Democrats around?

      I signed up with the first day I heard of it.

    3. Re: More on Exhausting Shame and Embarassment

      Another approach to consider:

      A distinctly Asian approach as seen in both Hinduism and Buddhism: Non-Identification

      In non-identification we stop taking the experience as me or mine. We see how our identification creates dependence, anxiety, and inauthenticity. In practicing non-identification, we inquire of every state, experience, and story, is this who I really am?

  2. Lin Rongxiang (Lionel from Singapore)July 27, 2018 at 1:03 AM

    I don't dare ask of morality from others, though I do my best where morality is concerned.

  3. Decency, like justice and the straight line, are noble notions from the human imagination. We can imagine such a paradise. But we will each of us get in the way of shooting ourselves and each other in the foot for the sake of ignorance and prejudice. You just can't people proof anything.