Archive for February 1st, 2020


The worst of it is that we live in a spoiled moral environment. We have become morally ill because we are used to saying one thing and thinking another. We have learned not to believe in anything, not to care about each other, to worry only about ourselves. The concepts of love, friendship, mercy, humility or forgiveness have lost their depths and dimension, and for many of us they represent only some sort of psychological curiosity or they appear as long-lost wanderers from faraway times, somewhat ludicrous in the era of computers and space ships. . . .

If I speak about a spoiled moral atmosphere I don’t refer only to our masters. . . I’m speaking about all of us. For all of us have grown used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an immutable fact, and thereby actually helped keep it going. None of us are only its victims; we are all also responsible for it.

Vaclav Havel, New Year’s Day Address, 1990


I came across the line, We have become morally ill because we are used to saying one thing and thinking another, in a tweet last night from former CIA Director John McLaughlin who said it ran through his mind several times yesterday as he watched the display of moral bankruptcy from the GOP senators taking place before our very eyes.

The onetime Czech playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel spoke those words in his New Year’s Day address to the Czech people after becoming the first democratically elected President of that nation in the post-communist era just weeks before. To that point, Havel had lived his entire life under an authoritarian regime. His plays were banned in his own land and he was imprisoned as a political prisoner multiple times, over four years during the longest incarceration, for attempting to bring light into a society where truth was what the regime claimed it to be. Many citizens were under almost constant surveillance and show trials were the norm.

Shows trials are those, particularly in Soviet nations of the Cold War Era, that have a predetermined outcome and don’t rely on witnesses or real evidence. As with truth, the evidence was what the regime claimed it to be. It was an expedient manner to remove political opponent with the appearance of justice taking place.

Sound familiar?

After reading Havel’s address and watching the events of the last few days, knowing already what the outcome will be as in any show trial, I could see real parallels in the moral illness that Havel described in his address and the behavior of our Republican senators. How can these people who speak one thing while thinking another believe that this will not corrupt our whole society, that which they have been entrusted to protect?

Their corruption will beget more corruption and that corruption more yet. Our Great Leader’s thousands upon thousands of lies will become accepted truths and his skewed amorality becomes the moral compass of our nation. Unless we reject these new norms, we will remain in this spiral that will soon bring us to a form of totalitarianism complete with more show trials and deeper surveillance for those who dare to stand against those in power.

We still have a chance to avoid this end. As Havel said: None of us are only its victims; we are all also responsible for it.

You can’t stand on the sidelines now. You can’t let others do the heavy lifting alone. Too many of us have done that for too long.

We are all responsible for it.


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: