When Only Corruption Is Authentic
The "True" Self, Revealed
Saturday, July 29, 2006 9:44 pm
There is a conceit that most of day-to-day life is a lie and, underneath it all, seething darkly, lives the truth. Thus, when a good man says or does something bad, we thereby learn what he is "really" like. But have we so learned? Bad acts or words are bad precisely because they present a failure; they signal a corruption. The man who, especially when drunk, does or says disreputable things has not lost his mask; he has succumbed to his corruption. When he is sober and does and says reputable things, he is not being a hypocrite nor a traitor to his "authentic" self; he is rising above the sins to which we are all subject. Our authentic selves are the uncorrupted, sinless selves, what we would have been had not the Fall occurred. No matter the terrible thoughts that beset a man, they do not represent him truly, unless he pertinaciously and characteristically indulges them. A man's character, after all, is what he wills of himself. When his will is crippled, especially by drink, his character has been set aside and he fails himself. It is a shame, really, that when someone is kind to us one moment and unkind the next, we think the kindness was false and the unkindness true. It is uncharitable, really, to allow a bad act to trump a good. Yes, a single bad act, absent repentance, can be decisive; but only absent repentance. Isn't that what God has told us, after all?