Showing posts with label excuses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label excuses. Show all posts

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Ignorance of the truth is no excuse

By watching court dramas as a child I learned, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” (Ignorantia juris non excusat). Therefore the mislead will be punished for their actions on January 6, 2021.  As for those who mislead them? Nothing. They broke no laws.

Facebook has taken most of the blame so far. Deservedly so. However, lying partisans and Fox commentators have largely escaped rebuke.

President Biden said this morning:

"My fellow Americans, in life there's truth and tragically there are lies. Lies conceived and spread for profit and power. We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. And here's the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.

He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country's interest, than America's interest. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution."

Biden blames the problem on lies. Particularly that of one man but he also doesn’t spare the Republicans continuing to back Trump.

"While some courageous men and women in the Republican Party are standing against it, trying to uphold the principle of that party, too many others are transforming that party into something else."

Something else is possible when a party values power over truth. But to be completely fair, which party is lying and which is telling the truth? We wouldn’t be in such a partisan mess if the fairness doctrine of 1949 hadn’t been repealed. That doctrine required broadcasters to present controversial views in response to their programming. It was in broadcasters’ interests to avoid giving air time to disagreeing viewers. Air time was too valuable to give to dissenting voices. To avoid controversy, broadcasters presented news as factually and objectively as possible. Bland, harmless news avoids controversy.

News organizations are free now to express controversial, even untruthful opinions while giving equal time to no one. Partnering with Trump, they created a counter-narrative while the Fake News claimed Trump lied over 30,000 times. Sounds unbelievable. Could they be lying themselves? It’s hard to tell. Furthermore, there are few instances of lying that are punishable, and many that are never challenged. Lies pass themselves off as free speech and any attempt to regulate lying would need to be carefully worded so as not to unjustly entrap those exercising their right to speak freely.

“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law,” said Attorney General, Merrick Garland. I expect that ignorance of the truth will be no excuse, while those who deceived won’t be punished.

It’s unlikely laws curtailing lies will arise. But perhaps the people will. What if they demanded a change in the political process? The abolishment of parties for example. Expressing political will would become more local and more personal. Perhaps even grow better conceived ideas. Could it be done? Would it hurt to try?

Friday, April 02, 2021

We have met the enemy and he is us.

The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

Steven Pressfield
Non-fiction, 167 pages

"The War of Art" like Sun Tsu’s similarly named, “The Art of War,” is about winning battles. Both brief volumes address their themes through a series of short chapters which build upon and clarify earlier chapters.

While Sun Tsu addresses war on the battlefield, Steven Pressfield addresses the artist’s battle against resistance. Although artists, particularly writers, comprise Pressfield’s primary audience, the problem of resistance is universal. Resistance can prevent anyone from achieving life’s higher purposes, whether those be artistic, altruistic, educational, entrepreneurial, healthful, moral or spiritual. Resistance is a force that inhibits those activities which lead to personal growth but not activities performed to appease our lower nature. Some of these activities (think instant gratification) are themselves symptoms of resistance.

Symptoms of resistance include: procrastination; instant gratification, through abuse of alcohol, junk food, television, etc.; attention getting through trouble-making, grandstanding, etc.; creating life complications by creating personal dramas, playing victim or martyr, etc.; and being cruel to, or critical of, others. Procrastination is resistance’s most typical symptom. Resistance’s closest ally is rationalization; procrastination is extremely easy to rationalize. Once rationalized, procrastination becomes habitual. We may even find ourselves believing our rationalizations.

Resistance causes personal dissatisfaction; a sense of boredom, antsiness, listlessness, joylessness and self-loathing. As resistance mounts, bad habits and mood or behavioral disorders begin to emerge. Our consumer culture further complicates the resistance problem. Consumerism fans the flames of resistance while selling us panaceas offering temporary relief.

Fear underlies resistance, and though, Pressfield doesn’t dwell upon it, it also underlies consumerism. We fear no one will like us if we don’t buy the right deodorant or laundry soap. We fear boredom; that’s why the radio and television are always on. We fear being alone; that’s why we take our cell phones everywhere.

We fear many things. We fear rejection. We fear failure. We even, and especially, fear success. Fear, in all its forms, drives resistance and resistance prevents us from achieving personal growth. Borrowing from Jungian psychology, Pressfield considers the self to be the source of creativity and personal growth, while the ego is the source of resistance.

Resistance can be countered through the act of “turning pro.” The difference between a professional and an amateur is that for the amateur the stakes are small making it easy to rationalize procrastination and other forms of resistance. The professional treats his art like most people treat their jobs. People may not like going to work every day but they go anyway, arriving on time and staying the entire eight hours. Professionals don’t permit themselves excuses when it comes to their art. They stick to their art regardless of criticism, lack of remuneration, and setbacks. They stick to their art out of love, because it’s important to their self-development, and they stick to it even when it’s unpleasant and difficult.

Pressfield’s book is more of a ‘challenge’ than a ‘how-to.’ It’s earthy, and it de-glamorizes the artistic life. Still, Pressfield’s arguments make sense, and his style is engaging. “The War of Art” is well worth reading.

*Title is a quote from Walt Kelly's Pogo comic strip