Wednesday, 08 December 2010 23:44

The Pain of Deceit

by Manuel Rodriguez
Our national, economic betrayal is merely a symptom of much larger, personal betrayal

As the current year fades and the new year begins, a trend continues to emerge in our society that is every bit as damaging as the economic fraud that has nearly plunged our country into another depression.

This fraud, which I’ve dubbed emotional deceit, is the constant betrayal of mutual trust and respect that has seeped into nearly every corner of our personal lives. The resulting emotional upheaval leaves a trail of destruction so bitter and permanent that it threatens our social and moral fabric.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of emotional deceit in society? The betrayal by Wall Street of any sense of decency, the lack of moral courage, and the demise of corporate values are all examples, and continue to shred our economy.   

What occurred on Wall Street didn’t merely shock the economy into near-depression, but it ripped the veneer from the socially accepted notion that some level of decency and good-will existed between the participants in this free-market experiment. It doesn’t, and it never will, again.

Everyone’s on their own, adrift within their own, tiny life-boat. Our grand economic experiment now shifts from one of growth for all to a relentless search for economic survival and subsistence.

On a much deeper level, though, emotional deceit has seeped into the very fabric and essence of our personal relationships. The deep mistrust and cynicism that characterizes the economy and its participants now also pervades our personal relationships.

We’ve grown accustomed to, indeed, even accepting of personal betrayal, especially in our romantic and professional relationships. The gut-wrenching body blows that follow personal betrayal leave an indelible, yet permanent scar on the soul and psyche of both the perpetrator and the victim. 

Perpetrators ultimately rationalize the betrayal as a byproduct of their insecurities and neuroses, but fail to acknowledge its real source: their overwhelming narcissism and unchecked self-absorption.

The reckless disregard, even contempt, for the broken, littered path of destruction that lies in the wake of betrayal merely reflects the emptiness of our lives. Our individual and collective inability to attach meaning to events and people that entered our lives, that were placed there to assist us through our journey through life, represents a betrayal of the soul and a repudiation of our humanity.

Having recently lived through just such an episode, I am witness to the fact that these events ultimately define the character of the participants, both the perpetrator and the victim. Each is left scarred, broken and wounded, adrift to reconstruct their lives as meaningfully as possible.

The victim will ultimately recover, mourn and seek some meaning from the experience. The perpetrator, though, becomes hardened, thickened, and more insular. The deceit further detaches them from those inner constructs that humanize them, and they become unable to identify good from bad, lover from abuser, savior from manipulator. The fraud changes the filter and prism through which they view life and others, and ultimately collapses their soul.

What occurred on Wall Street was a systemic moral failure by collections of individuals, the same failures that occur in our personal lives. As a society, our moral compass has run adrift, guided by little more than narcissistic absorption and self-preoccupation. Is it any surprise those institutions, which are, after all, merely embodiments of our personal consciousness, should behave any differently?

Individually and collectively, we should be cognizant of the emotional wreckage that we’ve accepted in our society and into our personal relationships, and the ripples and unintended consequences occasioned by our deception, which will last very deep into our future.  Be very careful of your impact on others, but especially on those you love. The impact will last a lifetime.  Actions, once taken, can never be undone, only forgiven.



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