You Are Who You Thought They Were

It is said that success has a hundred fathers but failure is an orphan.  Although the wise course of action would be to restrain from bragging too much about one’s successes and being gracious to others to allow more people to have a share of glory and to be reflective when things have not gone as we would have wished, it is all too easy for us to be both sore winners and sore losers.  When something happens that is considered to be nearly impossible based on one’s understanding, one can be sure that many bitter and angry recriminations will follow and that many fingers will be pointed at azazel goats of one kind or another which the guilty will attempt to foist their sins and blunders upon and drag them out of the city to bear the sins of the congregation of bloggers and bloviators so that business may proceed as usual.  As someone who spends a great deal of time not only writing blogs but also reading them, and who tries to keep informed on what is going on around me even if that can be somewhat depressing at times, I have been struck by the magnitude of finger pointing that I have seen around me, and the sort of blame games [1] that have sought to tar and feather various people or expose their attempts to avoid or evade responsibility for their supposed sins.

By now many readers will know exactly what I am talking about.  For the last few months I have wanted to hide in a cave or under a shell to avoid the nastiness of the political discourse that was going on, and I am sure that many other people felt the same way.  Unfortunately, the end of the campaign has not led to any sudden rise in graciousness or decorum within our frayed and fragile political order.  Yet it is not my interest today to talk so much about the politics themselves, but rather on the way in which people (myself included) often closely resemble what we find most offensive or most bothersome in other people.  Whether what we are pointing out exists in other people or not, the fact that we are so passionate against it often says a lot more about ourselves than it does about those whom we attack.  This is one of the hazards of being a big mouth, in that as much as we might want to talk about what is around us and outside us or bothering or irritating us that our very act of speaking and writing will expose ourselves before the world, and sometimes that is not a pleasant sight for others to see, or all that beneficial to our own self-regard.

Recently I commented on efforts on the part of some disaffected progressives to abolish the Electoral College [2], but this is only part of a larger concerted effort on the part of many (including Time Magazine)  to continue this nasty and ugly campaign by urging Republican-pledged electors to decide en masse to become faithless electors and gift Hillary Clinton an election win she did not win.  Urging people to betray their covenants to support a particular slate in order to preserve a republic would seem a bit hypocritical to those who are not in the leftist echo chamber, rather a bit like telling people to cheat on their own spouses to defend the institution of marriage that was seen as under threat.  Yet this is one of the most obvious ways in which people become what they accuse others of being.  How is this so?  Well, one of the more common accusations made against our president-elect is that he is a threat to our constitutional rights, yet in order to stop him there has been support of extraconstitutional and in some cases outright illegal (as some states have sanctions against would-be faithless electors) means to deny a victory that took place under the rules of our republic.  One is reminded of the logic of those who carpeted Vietnam with Agent Orange in that terrible war:  we are told that we have to destroy our republic in order to save it.

Last night when I was looking at the news that is helpfully pushed to my e-mail just in case I didn’t read it, I saw that all of the articles had the same whiny left-wing perspective, which is not the sort of broad-minded perspective I had hoped from a worthwhile news source.  What was particularly striking and ironic about these messages was that they were blaming the proliferation of fake news for Trump’s victory, saying that the fake stories about the corruption of Secretary Clinton were responsible for her loss, while not recognizing that they themselves had proliferated in fake news themselves over various matters, including certain accusations against President-elect Trump.  Apparently libel is only wrong when it is against someone one supports.  One is tempted, in such an atmosphere as ours that resembles the highly partisan infotainment of the 19th century to utter the cynical question of Proconsul Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?”  Of course, some of us are highly interested in truth, but we rather find it wearisome picking through the bias and subterfuge of those who claim to be presenting truth while reveling in being propagandists for one side or another.  What is to be done for those of us that don’t want propaganda of any kind?  Where are we to find real news in a world of fake news?  Certainly not from the blogroll of deplorables that ends up in my inbox, that’s for sure.

It is certainly easy to make fun of other people and to make sport of what makes them ridiculous, regardless of where we stand.  At best, this sort of approach to life leads us to end up like dear Lizzy Bennet [3], finding amusement in the folly of others but with the tendency to be prejudiced against others as a result of our quick judgments and unduly proud of our powers of quickness and perception.  The dedication of our life’s energies into finding funny putdowns for those whom we hold into contempt has the unpleasant consequence of exposing our own meanness into the light, where others may not find it so witty or so pleasant.  More importantly, our desires to judge others as wanting by our standards has the result that we often judge ourselves by that standard unknowingly and unwittingly.  Most of us would fare better being more charitable to others, and not thinking that all or most of the folly and evil lies in the dark hearts of our rivals and competitors and enemies and those with whom we are estranged.  We all have enough darkness in our hearts to bring us trouble without the need for any enemies at all.  I know that is certainly true of me, and I have no reason to doubt, from what I see and read, that the same is true for everyone else.  Seeing then that we are in need of mercy and pardon for our own faults and errors, why not try a little mercy on others, even those we may mistrust and fear and despise?  We may find there is less to fear and despise, and that would be good for all of us, in that it would allow us to focus our hostility on the powers and principalities that are the common enemy of all mankind.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/to-which-office-do-i-go-to-get-my-reputation-back/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/our-share-of-the-blame/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-blame-game-education-and-personal-responsibility/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/the-enduring-usefulness-of-the-electoral-college-a-constitutional-essay/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/the-miseducation-of-elizabeth-bennet/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/book-review-the-heroines-bookshelf/

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Christianity, History, Musings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to You Are Who You Thought They Were

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Kindness Challenge | Edge Induced Cohesion

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