Inspiring Motivating Lies

It’s Fall, which means that if we aren’t out and about, we’re watching football on the weekend. We don’t pay for TV, but even so there are multiple options on Saturday starting at 10 AM some days and running until 8 PM. Sundays there are three NFL games. Loads of football.

This means loads of commercials, for beer and trucks and boner pills. The audio mute is a trusty pal when it gets to be too much, which is always. Yesterday I saw a new one, featuring various actors and jocks looking into the camera Earnestly and Sincerely and saying something. Mute was On, so I had no idea what it was, but I could tell it was Earnest and Sincere. When the graphic came, I knew: Together we can end sexual violence and domestic abuse.

I am now erecting my soapbox. Talk amongst yourselves.

Friends, let me be very blunt with you: there is no way, in any conceivable Universe, that “we”, whoever the hell “we” are, are going to end sexual violence and domestic abuse. People may become more educated about the issues, and people may repent past behavior and do better next time, and people may be encouraged to get help, and people may be empowered to offer help, and all kinds of good and useful things are possible. Eliminating violence, domestic or otherwise is not possible. Sorry. Scratch a suburban Mom and find a plains ape with attitude and an enormous forebrain. We are a bit smarter than the chimps, in that we fling our feces symbolically, but fling them we do. We are tribal, emotional and bloody-minded, and find it very difficult to think rationally when part of a large group of our kind. It takes us years to learn to control our emotions, and many of us never learn. Given all this, we are not going to eliminate violence. Not now, not ever, world without end, amen.

So what is the point of asserting the impossible? Think how many campaigns of this sort you have seen over a lifetime. Think about the rank impossibilities asserted as achievable. “Together, we can end homelessness.” “Together, we can end poverty.” Or, painfully, “Together, we can end racism.” No, we can’t. Somebody is always going to be homeless. Somebody is always going to be poor. Somebody is always going to be a racist. How many times have you heard somebody on the tube solemnly say something that Just Ain’t True? Is it possible that the widespread cynicism about Everything we have been and are being told is based on the dawning realization that we are being tenderly lied to for our own good? Maybe a societal overdose on too much “Together, we can do ANYTHING!” rah-rah?

I hate rah-rah.

The impossible Perfect is the enemy of the possible Good. Truth, however awkward or painful or unwelcome is better than a lie, even an Inspiring Motivating lie with only the best of intentions. Truth is we are not perfect, have never been perfect, are never gonna be perfect and would hate being perfect if somebody forced Perfection upon us. End violence? Sure, the same day that the lion lays down with the lamb and the lamb gets up and walks away. We do not get to eliminate the problem. Instead we just get to deal with it, and try to mitigate the harms done. We can never win the war. Never. We never end violence and we never end sexual abuse. Such being the case, stop promising the impossible and get busy with what can be done. We can make things better, but we can’t make things perfect.

Keep the pie in the sky in church, where it belongs.  Just give me some truth.

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