We are lied to when verbs are manipulated to minimize the meaning of an indiscretion.
We share trust issues with wives of candidates, who were lied to about previous lies.
Perhaps due to some collective insecurity, because we know how flawed we are individually, we participate in stories of transcendent greatness that belie the vulnerable nature of being human. We create myths around sports figures, political leaders, and even performers, that elevate them to stories of Divine Intervention and our expectations are for these players to transcend what we fear most; our mortality.
This storyline leaves no room for anything that debunks that myth. Like the truth.
These “heroes” can hit baseballs farther and ride bicycles faster. They move us with celestially inspired words so that we can rise to defeat evil enemies, or they earn our adoration for how they survived the desert as they journeyed toward fame.
And here’s the irony- we don’t even believe the stories we create. Who didn’t think that Lance Armstrong was lying about PED’s all along? Who really thought that Barry Bonds had no idea that he was given steroids? Is anyone going to put a real money wager on Roger Clemons telling the truth…or A-Rod?
Were we really surprised to find out that they were using what was available to them to win?
I’m not excusing the lies stemming from weak moral values or crippled character, but if we, as a society, believe the axiom that winning is everything and that the popularity from those winning achievements is the measure of success, then can we be surprised when we discover that our winners did whatever it took, and hid whatever they had to, to reach that plateau?
Do we secretly want them to lie when they’re accused of taking mortal steps?
From a more Earthly perspective, if your paycheck is determined by how many tackles you make, wouldn’t it seem logical to become as big and strong as you can, and as quickly as possible? Where is the surprise if steroids are used to accelerate that pathway to the success we expect from them?
If your endorsements increase every time you win a race, and everyone around you is using performance enhancers to beat you, doesn’t it sort of make sense to improve yourself the same way?
Problems arise when we use our myth and not reality to determine the rules we play by. It will be inevitable that there will be contradictions between fiction and non-fiction in our storyline, and the truth is, the “offenders” are only doing what we asked of them. Except that we added a provision –don’t get caught- so that we can keep our phony moral judgments.
Our craving for the drama that distracts us from reality has also created a media machine to propagate those fantasies and it grows as it exposes the layers that make us human. Like the “Borg” from Star Trek, it gains power by absorbing the energy of what stands in its way and mechanizing its humanity.
Whether we watch the news and read the tabloids, or not, we are still affected by its influence. This Mass Media Behemoth determines our ethical (even political) directives and it does so by elevating or demonizing whatever or whomever gets the most attention, the fastest.
Ethics are what guide a society toward civility, but the dilemma we now face is that the ethical decisions being made by our creation are fake. They are as false as a magician elevating above the sidewalk; they are an illusion to give us a sense of living in a world that suits our mythology but diverts us from the reality that life might be too…human.
We end this perpetuating paradigm of moral paralysis by gazing at our own reflections and determining to judge others only as we would wished to be judged ourselves. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”