Thursday 19 September 2019

Intending to deceive? That is a lie. Honest

President Donald Trump. Photo: PA
President Donald Trump. Photo: PA

John Masterson

In the 1960s the wonderful Joan Didion wrote about Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco at the height of its hippie druggie phase. In Slouching Towards Bethlehem she tells of her shock at seeing a five-year-old taking LSD in what she described as a "horror of disorder". She goes on to talk about these being children who would never learn the "games that held society together". Joan was and is atheist.

Her American Irish husband, John Dunne, famously admitted 'baptising' their daughter in the middle of the night under a tap for insurance. But both saw the glue of society as family, friends, education, the things that form character and prevent the chaos Joan wrote about.

Fifty years on the type of dysfunctionality seen in San Francisco has become commonplace worldwide. In Ireland, drugs, alcohol, gambling, unemployment and crime have a firm grip on many communities.

I regularly hear people say that without religion, people feel no need to be good. Without the fear of hell and damnation, why not pick a pocket or two? There is something in what they say. In days gone by to be read from the pulpit provoked fear. No more. But plenty of people with no religion live upright lives, typically with values similar to Sermon on the Mount mixed with some of the 10 Commandments.

I have pretty much the same attitude to all religions. I have no time for any of them. Sometimes I wish I was born in 2500 when religion will be seen as a low-level human consciousness that we have outgrown.

Marx was probably right about the opium of the masses. How else could the working-class put up with the sweatshops that followed the Industrial Revolution if not under the watchful eye of a wrathful God. How would Isis monsters carry out their atrocities without their absurd beliefs. Sadly, humans will always find something to fight about.

My father told me that lying was intending to deceive. No wriggle room. Donald Trump manages to call someone a 'liar' in a tweet as an insult, and then lie repeatedly as if he was different. We have had a financial crash for which no one was held responsible. We have had faked Garda statistics for which no one was held responsible. We have a lot of comment about character references in a society where we seem to have lost all concept of what character is.

People of good character do not give drugs to five-year-olds, or Guinness to youngsters. I sat in a bar in South Korea and watched people leave their phones on the table when they went to the toilet. No one would dream of taking one, I was told.

How long would you give it in the island of Saints and Scholars. Five minutes?

Where are today's games to hold us together?

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