Hidden, Revealed, Hidden, Revealed; or, Peeling the Hype to its Essence
Of stockpiled ventilators a New York Times headline this morning screeched, “Thousands Do Not Work.”
Of Senator Kelly Loeffler’s possible insider stock trading, an article said, “Can a person who is this wealthy represent your concerns, as, say, a family that has lost its job because of this pandemic?”
Of health care professionals attempting to protect themselves, another headline said, “‘I Do Fear for My Staff,’ a Doctor Said. He Lost His Job.”
We are in the midst of a pandemic, but what’s going on here really?
We are in an extremely uncomfortable onion-peeling process. Ever peeled an onion? Often, it makes one weep.
Certainly, I could weep over stockpiled ventilators that haven’t been maintained, and therefore not only do not work, but cannot then save lives.
I could also weep over the thoughtless stock trading that Senator Loeffler allowed, even if she didn’t initiate it, based on insider information on the coming pandemic. The kicker, not mentioned in today’s article, is that she and her husband reinvested some of their funds in Citrix, a computer program that allows people to work from home.
I could also weep over the thousands of doctors who don’t have enough personal protective equipment, and the hospitals that are firing them for speaking the truth.
Truth, Beloved, almost always requires a spokesperson.
The Nazarene Rabbi speaking in the Gospel of Luke (12:2) says, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” I wakened this morning with the chant of my title, a mis-remembrance of this verse: Hidden, Revealed, Hidden, Revealed.
The word which ends the preceding verse is telling. Hypocrisy.
This is what is being both hidden and revealed.
Is it really possible that ventilators weren’t maintained? Of course.
Is it really possible that a senator ensured her own benefit over that of her constituents? Of course.
Is it really possible that hospital systems are firing doctors because they’re trying to protect themselves? Of course.
Are these few facts devastating? They are.
There are myriad others that are being peeled back as we collectively confront our own hypocrisy. Sadly, we each get to own a bit of it.
Hypocrisy, you see, wears all sorts of “distressing disguises,” to quote Mother Teresa. Let’s be brave and have a look at them together: lethargy, competition, nationalism, genderism, classism, racism, ageism, able-ism, doubt, fear, loathing, longing. Anything, really, that smacks of an us vs. them.
We are all in the process of peeling away the skins of the onion. The closer we get to the center of it, the more pungent it gets, the more likely we are to weep. At some level, we are all weeping collectively.
The next verse explains what’s happening now: 3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
Our 24-hour news cycle represents the housetops where proclamation is alive and well.
Here’s something worthy of proclamation. Joshua D. Rabinowitz, writing in “These Coronavirus Exposures Might Be the Most Dangerous” says, “As with any other poison, viruses are usually more dangerous in larger amounts. Small initial exposures tend to lead to mild or asymptomatic infections, while larger doses can be lethal.”
Of course, this makes sense. The longer we live with the virus, the more sense is being made of it. Fortunately, The New York Times does its level best to report the latest even if it contradicts what came before.
Here’s another from Nicholas Kristof, “It’s baffling that the richest country in the history of the world fails so abysmally at protecting its health workers, especially when it had two months’ lead time. And for hospitals now to retaliate against health workers who try to protect themselves — ousting them just when they are most needed — is both unconscionable and idiotic.”
This also makes sense. There has been an unholy alliance between the medical profession and the insurance industry for decades. It’s time for us to know just how dirty the relationship is, and to clean it up.
Here’s a third, in “Alarm, Denial, Blame: The Pro-Trump Media’s Coronavirus Distortion” by Jeremy W. Peters, “The pervasiveness of the denial among many of Mr. Trump’s followers from early in the outbreak, and their sharp pivot to finding fault with an old foe once the crisis deepened, is a pattern that one expert in the spread of misinformation said resembled a textbook propaganda campaign.”
Any thinking person already knows this. It’s old news, but it’s still a revelation to many of us, and thereby, worth a proclamation. Making a disease about anything other than what it is makes no sense, and yet, Dr. Anthony Fauci has suddenly been assigned a 24-hour security detail because of threats on his life fostered by conspiracy theorists on social media.
Hidden, Revealed. Hidden, Revealed.
The deep etymology of the word hypocrite is fascinating. Originally hypocrite meant someone who answers. Hypocrisy meant answering. The words were used in the context of question and answer, and were originally neutral. Eventually they were connected with question and answer [a.k.a. dialogue] in a play. “From that they went on to be connected with acting a part.
“The hypocrite is never genuine; he is always play-acting,” says Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay. He goes on, “The basis of hypocrisy is insincerity. God would rather have a blunt, honest sinner, than someone who puts on an act of goodness.” Personally, I’d change that to a blunt, honest person, but Mr. Barclay is a man of his era, and hypocrites were sinners.
Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and consultant for an anti-Trump group says, “[T]hat’s the degree to which Trump and Trumpism is fueled by grievance and a sense of constantly having to fight for survival.”
There is hypocrisy writ large.
What are they grieved over? Legitimate grief deserves deep compassion. Simple disappointment that life isn’t what they thought it would be is an inside job. Make a choice. Take an action. Change your life.
My bottomline prayer, when I’m hurting the most, is, “Change me, or change this.” I usually only pray it when I’m weeping.
Fortunately for me, while this morning’s news made me weep, Elliot Ackerman wrote an article called, “There Is an Antidote to Our Fear. It’s Called Leadership.” Mr. Ackerman was a Marine in the Battle of Fallujah; he learned some things in that process.
“Wartime leadership involves, most crucially, two things. The first is steely honesty in the face of grim facts.”
Well, there’s the serum antidote to hypocrisy, no? Steely honesty — whether we like what we’re being honest about or not — even if the facts are grim.
“The second component of wartime leadership is affirming the capabilities of those you lead.”
Here’s the second part of the cure for hypocrisy. There are capabilities popping up all around us during the Trump Pandemic. Each one of us who bravely dries our tears, or cries them anyway, while we’re peeling away the onion of the hype needs to be affirmed in those capabilities.
I wished a beloved friend happy birthday two days ago, and asked, as a matter of course these days, how she and her family were faring. She assured me that everyone was well, and then she wrote, “I am seeing silver linings everywhere.”
That’s what the healing of hypocrisy yields: blessings on top of blessings on top of blessings.
Peel away, Beloved, and know that a lot of us are right there weeping with you.