As we all sit at home obeying the advice, or sneak about defying the impositions placed upon us, we must all be wondering what the heck is going on at the top. We seem to be watching the Leader of the Opposition both supporting and attacking the Government in such a way as to be able to one day say, “See, I was right all along” because he’s playing both sides of the Lockdown argument while not being responsible in any way for the action that has to be taken. He’s a bit like the crowd of fat, XXXL team shirt-wearing, pie-eating experts in the stands at a Premiership football match, who all know they could’ve done better than the millionaire on the pitch while safely avoiding any exercise that reflects that expertise.
Which made me think about the Second Resolution as it relates to Competence and Character, and their opposites – the negatives of Pride and Pretension. On first seeing Pride as a negative you may be forgiven for thinking that Pride is a good thing, but in this context we are talking not about the sense of peace when we do a good job, but about excessive pride. This is the pride that prevents us acting with integrity when, having made a mistake, we refuse to acknowledge it. It is the pride that also makes us try to cover up that mistake, but that is outside the scope of this brief article.
What I see in politicians today is both disagreeable, and understandable at the same time. They exemplify ‘pride and pretension’ in the sense that they bluster and blather while insisting they have better ideas than the other side, while making sure that their position will not result in their being held to account. We know this to be true because the opposing ideologies are so obviously present – otherwise the parties wouldn’t ‘all’ be in agreement. But it’s understandable, if not forgiveable, because the minute any principled politician listens to advice and changes their policy – they’re slammed for being ‘forced into a u-turn’, as opposed to thanked for listening.
(Watching both sides of Congress debating the Supreme Court nomination is funny. Watching them arguing that the other side is wrong because the other side is doing what the first side did last time, after the other side opposed it, is quite funny. Attacking the other side for finally agreeing with you, while changing your own mind? Not at ALL partisan.)
This element of Pride is the sin of ‘Being Right’ regardless of incoming data. It’s about blind following of your preferred ideology even when you know, inside, that what you are doing is incongruent and undermines any integrity you claim to possess.
When I imagine the parties discussing “We’ll say that, because it means they’ll have to do that, and then we can claim that….”, I cringe. That is playing both sides against the middle instead of clearly deciding – and declaring – what is right. Now the mind-blowing bit – that applies even if they ZRE right.
Truth serves itself – it doesn’t need deception to justify its existence.
The other thing about telling the truth is that you don’t have to make up defences. You don’t have to tell another lie to support or cover the first. Gary King (http://garykinglive.com/truth-challenge/) talks about how research suggests that for every lie told, you have to tell seven more to cover it. And as per the Siphonaptera and its fleas, each of the seven lies has seven more little lies on its back to bite ‘em.
Exercising excessive pride to the extent that you lie – and ‘lie’ includes exaggeration and ‘being disingenuous’ to use the politicians’ obfuscation against them – is not good debating, positive strategy or justifiable in the (any) moment.
So stop playing games – we can see right through you, Mr/Madam Representative.