It seems that the word "principle" is becoming a bit squishy. There are principles, and then there are PRINCIPLES!
While philosophical principles are important, emotional principles are the ones that receive most of our attention. These are the principles that are "personal." We are invested in them.
Human beings are capable of compartmentalizing principles. We keep "two sets of books." We might say we are passionate about a particular cause, but our behavior often tells a different story. Our passion is actually directed at personal gratification, not the higher principle.
We work at maintaining the charade. And then … we are caught.
Our media finds this subject newsworthy: What do people do when they are caught?
Senator John Edwards has been involved in redirecting political gifts for secondary purposes. Representative Anthony Weiner has indulged in a cyber life of intrigue that distracts from his congressional duties. Both of them misrepresented their activities, and then they were caught.
Principles were violated. Public trust and familial obligations were misrepresented. The personal integrity of both individuals was severely compromised.
Our culture does not see the individuals as being at fault. It is a problem associated with the larger grouping: men, public officials, etc. Society must be held to account.
While that is for the convenience of public discourse, there appears to be a serious epidemic of introspection visiting our political pundits. Janeane Garofalo is maintaining a tenuous hold on an increasingly untenable position. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (always working the political calculus) is rethinking her pronouncements. Markos Moulitsas is checking in to political rehab.
(OK, that last one is a spoof, but it’s fun to contemplate.)
Maybe it’s time for introspection from us all. When we see political behavior that strikes us as hypocritical, should we see it as a time to “double down” in our support?
Or should we put it aside and simply say, “That’s not me.”Return to Top
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