I always felt William Yeats and Chinua Achebe were talking about the desecration of the truth by humankind and its consequences in the writing and interpretation, respectively, of this opening of the poem Second Coming. I also think I know why Achebe adopted it. He had a message for his people – ” society is just as good as its collective approach to objective truth.”
One would assume that any member of the intellectual elite or the general public in any society would know that, 2 + 2 = 4. And we should acknowledge that they certainly do. However, the intellectual elite of my people, especially, would only accept, 2 + 2 = 4, if there is a (mostly) material or psychological benefit to themselves for doing so. I witness this happen daily done by innumerable different “brains” or “ordinary folk”. Well, it might be the case that the truth is not just bitter for my people; all inconvenient truths are to them are bitter.
Personalising objective truth is quite a colossal task and one filled with assiduous waste at least in the long run. The short-run benefits are, at best, very temporary. It requires practitioners to run intricate snares, ropes, faux commitments of deception tightly around themselves which they cannot free themselves from when those frequent moments of reckoning emerge before them. To “restore” themselves as “objective” they create new persuasions that bind them into ever more profound levels of mental imprisonment and folly. Very often, all that is left in the spirit and soul of such people is wit, frustration, anger and desperate deception.
Enter into the world of “deception as an objective!” The practitioner of deception as objective, especially as the primary mode of communication and persuasion is never a happy man or woman. Such people spend more time persuading themselves with little success than on others; one should wonder how successful they are at such and why? They come to fear any truth terribly because it would expose them internally causing them psychic pain and they hate the loss of dignity and mistrust it brings them when others realise their ingenious but overstretched or mix-and-match deceptions.
The real liar does not bother with desecrating the truth for the reason of convenience or profit, and they replace truth with falsehoods. The real liar, unless pathological, knows his lies will be caught out one day and prepare in advance; many “leave town”. Those practitioners who fraudulently personalise truth make no such preparations and are forced to burden themselves with ever-increasing unrelenting desperation to look and sound objective. It is not a comfortable situation.
If the 4 produced by 2 + 2 means something specific that is inconvenient to a person at that time 2 + 2 = 4 becomes their dedicated object of assault. For example, the 4 produced by 2 + 2 is immediately replaced with 1.95 + 1.95 = 3.9 or 2.05 + 2.05 = 4.1. The simple reason for this shifting manipulation is that since the meaning of 4 is inconvenient to them but the meanings of 3.9 or 4.1 are not, they become the new focus of their truth. At that same moment if you owe that same person £4000 but pay her £3900, 2 + 2 = 4, becomes instantaneously relevant again. In fact, 2 + 2 = 5, then becomes a very desirable truth.
Taking the 2 + 2 = 4 issue further, if the person is not happy with the (+) operator, he or she dismisses the ‘operation of addition’. Among my people like all other people, addition and multiplication in their favour are the most desirable of things yet, in this case of, 2 + 2 = 4, which they do not like, addition is not worth its existence.
If the personalisation of objective truth can savagely assault the 2 + 2 = 4 as arithmetic or Platonic truth by the intellectual elite of my people, what fate would far more intricate, highly complex or even tricky to approach truths to suffer at their hands? Opportunity cost means you cannot eat your cake and have it. If you use a yard of cloth to sew a pillow, you cannot use that same yard of material to sew a skirt or pair of shorts. I trust my people can also personalise such an immutable but straightforward truth. And it is not as if these people are versed in the arts of magic which they can perform at will.
Nevertheless, when my people (habitually and constantly) personalise truth, they personalise justice, fairness, integrity, discipline, charity, goodness, industry, authority, power, service, equity, rights, outcomes etc. with the switch of full acceptance or desecration on their minds depending on the benefits of doing so. It has to be one way, or the other, and desecration of the truth is more benign and popular.