Hypocrisy

A response to consistent irrationality

They didn’t come to listen. They came to engage in violent aggression against pleas for justice and compassion. Photo by Andrés Gerlotti on Unsplash.

A long thread that I posted to Twitter in response to Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans).

So Trump’s out saying all these women are liars and men should be scared because anyone can accuse them of anything, but didn’t he parade Bill Clinton’s accusers out at the debates, suggesting they should be believed? (Even as his own accusers should not?)

Hypocrisy matters only to those who are not hypocrites. If you have noticed, this is his strategy. He is consistently inconsistent. He is a chameleon who changes his message depending on the environment and the audience. This keeps him at the centre of the attention economy.

One need not pay for advertising, marketing and media exposure when outrageous behaviour is a brand that taps into the business model of mining personal data to exchange for advertising dollars and the attention of targeted audiences of consumers.

In effect, he has created two audiences: fans and cult followers and an anti-audience of people who are outraged by his policies, speech and behaviour. Everyone is an audience. He has played the entire system. He earned name recognition by being outrageous. We fed the troll.

The con was that people gave him everything, money, celebrity and power, and he has given nothing in return. So, he is right. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” The role of President of the U.S. is not one of human decency.

The con of the American republic is to represent this system that was designed over 200 years ago as representative democracy and a defender of the poor and oppressed. That is a brand promise that America has yet to deliver on. Rather, it is an empire.

We can only be surprised when we expect something other than what we consider to be normal. If you asked a Canadian about America, we would express abhorrence, but as politely as possible by saying to each other, at least we are not American. But we are not surprised.

One of our best known Canadians, Malcolm Gladwell, says something to this effect: “You guys were taught something that, as far as I’m concerned, bears no relationship to what actually happened. I won’t even start to enumerate the lies that you learned.”

“Why are you taught lies about what happened in 1776? Because you won! … The only way you’re going to get back to the truth is if you are willing to go back and overturn a lot of assumptions and beliefs about what people think actually occurred.”

Why are people going through a deconstruction process, questioning their ideas and institutions, questioning the government, the corporation and the church? Because we have been lied to, and we are just beginning to realize what we have all been busy designing and building.

The Liturgists have been discussing recently the question Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” The American position has been: “We are a Christian nation.” If you ask people outside of America, Christ is unrecognizable in America as a brand.

I speak of a brand as a symbol of trust. You can market by manufacturing messages and images to try to control the narrative with overwhelming amounts of content. However, that does not necessarily translate into perception unless there is a relationship that confirms the claims.

Who do we say you are? Trump is a true reflection of who America is. He is holding up a mirror to reveal how the world perceives America. America is the belligerent blowhard, the sexual predator, the callously indifferent patriarchal oppressor.

Consider growing up in the shadow of the United States of America, both attempting to resist its influence while assimilating its cultural exports. For myself it has been 50 years of trying to peel away the lies that consumed our family and social circles.

America has given us the gift of free speech and the technologies to create common space across time and space. For that we are extremely grateful (it is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada). As we walk around the broken gates and walls of the city, assessing the damage, we have hope.

Nehemiah had the mandate of Cyrus to rebuild. Nebuchadnezzar had deconstructed. It was a time to rebuild. Nations had deconstructed Germany. The Bauhaus rebuilt. They prototyped the modern world. Apple, its successor, completed the modernist project: the technological utopia.

However, as we look around, we can see that the human project is in ruins and the social order is being ripped apart. The only winners in the modern struggle for industrial supremacy have been the corporations and the machines. So, we need to retool, retrain, and rebuild.

IDEO is the evangelist of the progressive ideal, a new religion that continues the modernist metanarrative, fusing art and technology to create new tools, habits and cultures to build utopia: human-centred design.

However, we must recognize that when we design social architecture, there are always unintended consequences. When humans deploy technologies at scale, we discover that we have the capability to destroy the world through nuclear annihilation or environmental degradation.

The propaganda about the Biblical narrative has been the inerrancy of the text and infallibility of its leaders and proponents. Neither of these claims squares with reality. If anything, the text teaches us humility as it documents the horrors of human hubris and stupidity.

The canon of our modern, secular religion, that science and technology have saved us from the hubris and stupidity of the past is, as Randy Stonehill might have put it, a Modern Myth. Technology now infects the mind.

The value that the Progressive Christian movement is bringing to this moment is self-awareness. People are finally beginning to realize that we are not living in a new promised land. We are living in Babylon. Christians have assimilated to life in the empire.

However, there is still a remnant, people who still believe in the spirit of the text, the compassionate divine entity who created the conditions to make love possible and demonstrated that love through incarnation. The trinity embodies ideas, will and action. Love builds.

As I witness the human-centred design movement, a secular approach to bringing good into the world, I see a reflection of the patterns that Christians refer to as Trinity: mind, spirit and body. To me it is ironic that those who claim the Christian identity least resemble Christ.

In the design culture, who are the scribes and prophets of our generation, I see people who are waking up to their own deconstruction process, understanding that the empire that we have built is poised to replace humans with corporations and machines.

If we create corporations as legal entities that assume the rights and privileges of human beings, when they achieve a market capitalization greater than the monetary worth of all of human life, we have made humans expendable. The corporations are actively pursuing this goal.

C.S. Lewis was right about the Screwtape letters. We thought devils were red fawn-like creatures with horns and tails. In actuality, they are inhuman inventions in the form of legal contracts, laws, corporate hierarchies, and national bureaucracies and the inhuman tools we built.

Hell is not a spiritual realm for eternal conscious torment. We design and build hell on earth to systematically destroy life on the earth. The 20th century is a history of social engineering experiments to apply industrial techniques to the control of human populations.

What Paul gave us was a vision for one new humanity, to destroy the dividing wall of hostility between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican. We need to figure out how we work together as cells in a single body, called Earth. Jesus called it ecclesia (church).

If we consider the praxis of the gospel, the design world gives us a process for inspiration, ideation and implementation. It has been proven to work in the design of physical tools and artifacts. Can we apply this to designing living systems?

That is how I now understand the human project. We must reflect the one whose image we bear, as minds, spirits and bodies who have been given the opportunity to turn the adjacent possible into the common good. Our common enemy is human hubris and stupidity.

Designer, writer, educator, social architect, founder, Builders Collective, Leading with Design. https://stephenbau.com

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