I’m sometimes reminded that the veneer of civilization is much thinner than it looks. Sometimes it’s too thin to contain the brutality of our animal nature when left unchecked or when guided by the morally bankrupt.
I recently watched two episodes of a documentary series on Netflix called The Keepers about the murder and cover-up of a nun who taught at an all-girls catholic high school. The things I learned about the activities of the two sadistic priests who worked there were so brutal, I barely got through the second episode.
Who hasn’t heard about an incident involving the deviance, sexual or otherwise, of a religious leader? Or of a church’s attempt to conceal it? It seems so common, it’s become a trope. Needless to say, it’s troubling. If leaders who dedicate their lives to the care and welfare of their parishioners’ souls are unable to move beyond the worst of their own animal natures, what hope do the rest of us have?
Which brings me to the political environment in the States. It’s not realistic to expect our political leaders to be saints but I think it’s reasonable that they should engage in language and behavior befitting their offices. At the very least, they should behave like decent people. We should expect more from them than we would your typical trashy reality-tv star who appeals to the worst aspects of ourselves because leaders set an example. When they exhibit petty, mean-spirited, bullying behavior it’s fertilizer for hatred and intolerance. We’re capable of more. Civilization requires it.