The Personalist Project

Continuing our reflections on Buber’s Good and Evil in conjunction with the current elections, the Psalmist (Psalm 12) hears “the presumption whispering in their [i.e., the liars] secret hearts (“Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us.”), and at the same time he hears God’s response (“Now will I arise.”).

With the ‘now’ there breaks out in the midst of extreme trouble the manifestation of a salvation which is not just bound to come some time, but is always present and needs only to become effective.

This reminds me, if I were to transpose it into philosophy, of Plato’s description of truth as always present, never refutable, never erasable. Like being itself, the truth about being, is always with us; it is something from which we cannot escape; it is always accessible.  Furthermore, as the opposite of being is nothingness, so the nature of lying and liars—and the generation of the lie—has to do with nothingness.

…this judgement and this freeing are not two events, but one.  ‘I set him in freedom, at whom they puff,’ says God.  He says of the oppressed man, at whom the smooth lips puff with their much speaking, that he will set him in the freedom of God.  …No judgment beyond this is needed: it is not said, and does not need to be said, that the generation of the lie is set (or will be set) in perdition.  Where they are is unveiled as nothing, and that is all.  Those who walk about in wickedness in this hour of the world in which (as is said in the conclusion of the Psalm) ‘vileness is exalted among the sons of men,’ have been revealed in their nothingness by the working of salvation; rather, their nothingness has become their reality, the only being they have is their nothingness. [my italics]

In hindsight, this becomes readily apparent though in the present moment it is hard to see. Hitler himself (whom Buber had to contend with), for all the earthly power and oppression of his “1000-year Reich”—which lasted, however, only 12 years—is revealed even by human history (much less in the light of eternity) to have been a puffed-up, measly little pipsqueak with no substance—with nothing to offer outside of distortion, lies, vanity, and pride.  Evil lives only from lies, not from reality.  It must sweep others up in its lies to (temporarily) keep going.  

But this too means that evil and lies must ultimately not only be empty (i.e., nothing) in themselves but must also hate and reject fullness (i.e, being, truth), especially the Fullness of Being Who is God. 

The Psalmist has heard the sentence of God. He knows and bears witness that these words [are] free of the dross of untruth that clings to every word of man.  …The Psalmist is no longer thinking only of the word he has heard, but God’s truth is opposed in a grand antithesis to the lie of the wicked.  Once more, and more deeply than before, we feel that this generation is not opposed to God [just] as speaking lies but as being a lie. [My italics, my brackets]

In connection with this election, the nothingness of the lies of Mr. Obama and the Democrats (most evidently on the life and family issues, but also in general) seems to me to have been captured wittily and prophetically by Clint Eastwood’s “empty chair” routine at the Republican National Convention.  (This does not, of course, mean that evil and lies are any the less dangerous in the present moment, i.e., in a temporal or worldly sense human life and freedom are indeed in danger right now.) 

Furthermore, the removal of any mention of “God” from the Democrat Platform, then the forceful reinsertion of it at the Convention in order to avoid political embarrassment (over the clear counter-vote and loud ‘boos’ of the delegates), clearly shows that the core of the Democrat party today is opposed to the very idea of God and of His Will or His Way which ought to be followed. 

This election may be one of our last chances to stop the ascendancy of the generation of the lie in our own day.  We have to do it at the ballot box. Unfortunately, the media who are supposed to be the watchdogs against deceit in government (a role they evidently relish against Republican administrations) are completely in the tank for Obama and the democrats on this one—they have become part of and perpetrators of the lie.  This is a danger to our entire government and way of life.  If you doubt this, or think it to be hyperbole, please take the time to watch, read, or at least check the highlights of Pat Caddell’s recent speech before Accuracy in Media.  Remember, Caddell is not a right-winger, nor even a Republican, but a Democrat who worked for McGovern, Carter, Gary Hart, Joe Biden (in 1988), and Jerry Brown (in 1992).  Here is the link: Pat Caddell Says: Media Have Become “Enemy of the American …

Comments (2)

Jules van Schaijik

#1, Oct 30, 2012 10:40pm

I completely share your sense of your urgency about this election. Not only in that it may well be our last chance to turn the tide against the generation of the lie, but also in that we no longer have the luxury of debating the fine points of the republican platform. It is true, as George Weigel points out, "that no political party fully embodies the social doctrine of the Catholic Church" But then he adds that

… it is also largely irrelevant. For the choice in 2012 is not between two parties that, in relative degrees, inadequately embody the Catholic vision of the free and virtuous society. The choice is between a party that inadequately embodies that vision and a party that holds that vision in contempt…

Michael Healy

#2, Oct 31, 2012 1:21am

Powerful quote from Weigel.  I had not seen it before.  I agree completely.

Sign in to add a comment, or register first.

Forgot your password?