Saturday, August 1, 2015
Reflections on "cheating"....
In a culture driven by symptoms, refusing to look either at the unseen or the unconscious, we find the meaning of words restricted to their "empirical" and public use.
"Cheating" is a word and a behaviour written into many television dramas and movies, depicting the betrayal of one partner in a relationship by their other and the betrayal takes the form of "another man or woman". It is as if that form of cheating is the stereotype, perhaps even the archetype and conventional definition of the word "cheating." Too often, also, the act is attributed to the male of the relationship, without any regard for the conditions that may have precipitated the "affair".
In a culture both replete with sexual images and also contemptuous of any kind of intimate relationship that stretches or breaks the boundaries set centuries ago mainly by the churches and their dogmatic definitions of morality, propriety and perfection, "in God's eyes"! Surely, the churches are highly implicated in the pushback that witnesses an exponential growth, for example, in pornography, given their categorizing as evil all sexual encounters outside of marriage.
"Recall" is a word and a behaviour describing the millions of automobiles that have been produced requiring return and repair because of some defect, some serious enough to have resulted in fatalities.
Never is the word "cheating" applied to those car companies, for their betrayal of their clients.
Similarly, we never hear the word "cheating" about an intimate relationship in which one partner lies about the behaviour of the other, misrepresenting the facts in order to seek and wreak revenge. We also never hear the word "cheating" applied to an intimate relationship in which one partner harbours a secret and vicious contempt for the other partner, yet refuses to leave the relationship for reasons of pride and public humiliation. We also never hear the word "cheating" applied to an intimate relationship in which one partner withholds sexual favours from the other, for reasons of power and control.
Similarly, physical abuse demonstrating bruises, cuts, broken bones will attract law enforcement, the courts and public contempt in a nanosecond, especially as it regards children and women. However, as a survivor of both physical and emotional abuse from my mother, while I wore long-sleeved shirts to school to cover the welts on my arms, after a beating, I never spoke of the profound and much more lasting impact of the insults to my person and character, in words that projected her own self-loathing onto my father, my sister and me. "You are no good and you will never be any good!" are the kinds of statements that ring in one's ears, mind and spirit for decades long after their utterance and long after the person uttering them has died.
And yet, those words were never called "cheating" as they legitimately ought to have been.
"Cheating" takes other forms, in public life also.
For example, when a prospective hiring agent listens to the public "gossip" about an individual generated and perpetuated by those who are or were enemies of the candidate, and refuses to offer a position, is that not another form of subtle, undetectable and therefore cheating with impunity.
Are we not also cheated when an employer expects us to work overtime without remuneration, because 'this in an emergency' and there is no one else available, especially in employment situations in which there is no contract and no labour support?
Are we not also cheated when our high school principal writes a letter of reference that assassinates the character of the referee, in the believe and expectation that the confidentiality of that letter will never become public. Is the writer not guilty of "cheating" again with impunity. Refusing to write the letter, and telling the candidate would have been far preferable.
Are we not cheated by our grocery stores when they knowingly hike prices, to capitalize on either a bad growing season or a public spike in demand, yet these are normally called "market adjustments" in order to protect the offending corporation?
Are we not cheated by our politicians when they lie and dissemble knowingly about their own behaviour, yet we accept a journalistic qualification of such lies as "political rhetoric" thereby exonerating the offending politicians from their "cheating"?
Are we not cheated by our drug companies when the produce drugs whose impact on our bodies and our minds and our very lives has not been previously ascertained through strictly controlled clinical studies/trials, conducted by independent academic scholars who are not in the "cash-flow" stream of research grants to their respective universities? Never mind the cheating that takes place in the setting of the prices of many of the most needed drugs for the most deadly of diseases!
Are we not cheated by the religious institutions whose pews are being vacated because they have adopted moral and ethical dogmatic positions that are, in a word, incompatible with both human and the rest of nature? However, these positions are considered as "high moral standards" expected of those who chose to belong to those institutions.
Are we not being cheated by the auto industry both in the setting of prices and the monopoly, unregulated, that permits them to gouge their clients through both false advertising and false representation of vehicles? Yet we all know that these are just the "way car companies operate" in the public vernacular.
And then, is the public not being "cheated" when those in power exert completely and totally unnecessary force to subdue a potential or suspected offender? Of course, we are, and we may not even be a member of the victim's family, neighbourhood, race or gender. Nevertheless, we feel "cheated" by the abuse of power in the first instance, and also in the second or third instance when that abuse is not dealt with appropriately.
When Vladimir Putin denies any involvement in the downing of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine, and then blocks a United Nations Security Council resolution seeking to investigate the incident, the whole world, not only the families of the victims, nor the airline that owned the plane nor the Ukrainians on whose soil the plane crashed, but each person on the planet is "cheated" out of the legitimate knowledge that must accompany such incidents. Otherwise, how is the world to sustain what is commonly considered the common trust on which all human relations depend.
When the Litvenenko murder is deem to have been conducted by Russian operatives, and the Kremlin denies any involvement in the dastardly assassination, the not only is his surviving spouse "cheated" along with the British judicial inquiry process, but the whole world is "cheated" out of another important element of the "public domain of testimony and truth" on which the conduct of civilization depends.
When the United States Congress denies all prospective proposals from the White House, for example, on comprehensive immigration reform, for various and sundry excuses, when we all know that behind all of their rejections and denials of anything this president has proposed on all issues, lies the "race card" and the racism that plagues that country, then not only are those undocumented immigrants "cheated" out of what ought to be their rightful path to citizenship, but the whole world too is "cheated" out of the depth of the malaise that infects the governance of the most dominant country in the world.
And if the U.S. cannot and will not debate the agreed-upon facts, while arguing a specious case of some other replacement issue such as amnesty, or border security, or dangerous people from abroad, then what are the limits to "cheating"?
Has not "cheating" become 'the way we do business these days'?
And is that development not another of the many indications that we are complicit in our own failure to acknowledge and address the many large issues we face together.
If together, we believe that "cheating" is more beneficial than telling the truth, or arguing the reasons behind our public statements is more troublesome than telling the truth, then how are we ever to begin the journey that commits every child, every parent, every teacher and every public official to removing the protective mask of "justification" and cover-up and rationalization and "cheating" that barnacles too many of our social, educational, religious and political conversations.
As the Russian chess Master Garry Kasparov put it, "With Putin there are no rules, whereas in chess, at least we have rules."
And when there are no rules, no one is safe, and no one can live in security, no matter how many billions are spent to "protect" us from danger, no matter the source of that danger.
Let's stop cheating, as a commitment to beginning to resolve our many serious and dangerous enemies.
Like Pogo before us, "We have met the enemy and he is us!"