Psalter (the 'Shaftesbury Psalter') with calendar and prayers
Origin England Date 2nd quarter of the 12th century

"We might have been born to advance higher purposes of civilization …"

We apparently love to be lied to. I find no other way to explain civilization. Societies and cultures might exist solely to maintain and reinforce myths, reassuring lies sustained for solace. We seem to not-so-secretly believe most everyone else a rube, easily fooled, many emphatically insisting not that we hold certain truths to be self-evident, but that we're good for keeping the dirty little secrets quiet. I suspect that most of us know too well how deep down lame we are inside, how utterly dependent we are upon lying to ourselves and to pretty much everyone else to maintain some cobwebby semblance of self-esteem. Even if the much-vaunted truth actually made good on its promise to set us free, we'd most likely choose to remain in slavery to the studied reassurances that, no, these pants do not make our butt look big. We've elevated the completely spurious Energy Drink Industry to comprise a significant portion of our retail economy. Need I say more? Sugar water spiked with caffeine, and some even spiked with measures of, excuse me, bull pee. I mean, how gullible must we be to drink that crap? It seems to me that this reality simply could not be without a deep and underlying identity insisting that you absolutely must lie to me and that I solemnly promise to keep the little secrets between us. We apparently sincerely believe that we cannot handle the truth.

We wear SmoulderingPants which, if the old adage — where there's smoke, there's also fire — holds true, our pants are actually on fire.
Maybe not flaming fire, but more than enough smoke to finish our brisket. We justify in ways Webster never intended, seeking only to make our actions appear right and reasonable when they're obviously often simply wrong and essentially crazy. We firmly believe that we should be able to talk ourselves out of any consequence. We weren't so much speeding, officer, but passing an erratic driver. I'd never litter, but the wind might sometimes suck an empty McDonald's cup right out my side window. I didn't actually cheat on my taxes, but was apparently confused by the instructions. We honestly believe ourselves to be innocent babes, not a malevolent lout among us. We routinely overflow with the very cream of human kindness. We're much more devout than we might appear. We're overwhelmingly upstanding, essentially incapable of uttering slurs. (We're largely slathering wolves seeking sheep.)

The Republican'ts insist that the opposition lies, an obvious lie that largely works for them, reassuring their aptly-labeled base—It beats calling them deplorable to their faces. Their convention seems so damned conventional, comprised of actors mouthing the same lies Reagan used to employ to awaken the snoozing monsters lurking inside us all. They seem to take great pride in debasing themselves, serenely preening their perverse perspectives before hungry cameras. They almost never flinch when proclaiming that some socialist Grinch wants to steal your Christmas or that unarmed leftists only want chaos, not justice. If one wants to sustain the lie, one must master that snarky poker face which never, ever belies what might be occurring just beneath the surface. One must exemplify grace under fire as one's own SmoulderingPants threaten the more private places, never flinching, a half-dimensional mannequin of a presence looking, quite literally, too good to be believed. One must not appear to notice the reeking brimstone scent wafting northward from one's own pants which, unsurprisingly, actually do make one's butt look outlandishly big. Such piety, that society, feeling utterly free to inflame you and me.

We each maintain our own, personal Lie Base, a largely benign collection of partially true scripture, science, and sociology keeping us so-called safe. It's easier to maintain than any endless truth-seeking, though it smells more like a cut-rate gas station's rest room than a rose garden. We're deserving, we insist, and need not resist the occasional liberating debasement. Most of my forebears were openly racist and also publicly pious, a fierce and demeaning combination. They opened the West and fought the wars and passed on their prejudices as my rightful inheritance. I've been learning to distinguish right from wrong since my earliest days, always afraid of losing some significant portion of my heritage and my identity within each transition. I've caught myself being one of those people my parents warned me about and tried for the longest times to avoid letting the resulting deep dark secret slip out. I've notice myself turning into a comical cardboard cut-out and attempted to reinflate a more authentic self. It was always indescribably hard work and I've not yet completed it.

I appreciate the frantic pace that progress has been making, its primary product has been spinning heads and ransacked tradition. I fancy myself no longer fool enough to attempt to navigate forward by means of my rear-view mirror, but I fool myself more effectively than I fool anyone else assembled here with me. I aspire for my butt to appear tucked and trim and I'm not yet beyond deceiving myself in the interest of maintaining that illusion, though you and pretty much everybody else can see right through me. Are we ghosts, mere spirits wrestling with truth while wearing SmolderingPants? Sometimes truth seems to succeed in conquering me, leaving me breathless. Oh, how much more convenient it seems to just sit back and let those reassuring lies wash up and over me, but I simply cannot. We're here for some reason beyond self-deception. We might have been born to advance higher purposes of civilization, not to merely maintain the myths and delusions our forebears fomented, but to wear something other than SmolderingPants. My butt, big or otherwise, has grown weary of the lies.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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