“The Goodness Of Our Hearts”

Many people have observed that anyone who starts a sentence, “To be honest with you”, is just about not to be. If professional con-men do this as well as amateur liars, then we have even less excuse for losing our money, but perhaps it is a beginner’s mistake. If this is made by some residual conscience that requires over-correction, perhaps in order to convince the speaker that he is not in fact a villain as much as to convince the victim of his lies, we might look for the same mechanism elsewhere.

I would nominate, therefore, the way parents belonging to what has so disgustingly been called the Greatest Generation used to praise their own motives in a manner that ought to have fallen foul of the Christian humility they attempted to impose on others. For, whenever they gave anything to their children, they invariably claimed that it was being done “out of the goodness of our hearts”. This was true even when the self-interest shone brightly through. As in the liar example, perhaps it was meant to convince themselves rather than their children, who became quite resistant even if they could not analyse the bullshit verbally.

For the human need at the top of the pyramid that Maslow ought to have described is “undeserved self-esteem”. The Greatest Generation’s impudent daily boasting about the goodness of their hearts could hardly have been motivated by anything other than a pre-emptive strike against a deeply submerged awareness that their hearts were not in fact good. When they heard from Jeremiah 17:9 that, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked,” their self-conceit was proof against the Word of God applying to them.

Posted on August 4, 2011 at 19:22 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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