I’m always interested in the truth, but we do tend to construct our own truths to fit our preferred view of the world. It’s almost impossible to isolate from what we want to believe what is reasonable, ethical or sustainable. It does lead to some extreme contradictions in the strange way that society behaves and what society says is correct. Here are two observed lately:
The world is quite rightly appalled at men behaving badly (from Harvey Weinstein to Barnaby Joyce) but the hottest movie of this weekend is Fifty Shades of Something. From what I can glean, without enduring actually seeing it or reading the books, the series is about a classic narcissistic psychopath and his victim. In real life, he’s the type who throws his girlfriend off the balcony when she defies him. Still, I guess its entertainment. Maybe a Weinstein production?
The second one is more subtle. A young man recently has gained $1.75 million from the estate of the father he never met. The deceased father had denied his responsibility for him as a child after an affair. The judge obviously saw the biological connection as important. Yet, just two months ago we all cheered when a law was passed that has such a situation as its basic tenet. We have created a new institution that demands that children not be raised by at least one of their natural parents. To me that is not reasonable, ethical or sustainable.
Cardinal Pell says he looks forward to his day in court. He believes he’s innocent and considers truth will prevail. He expects a speedy resolution and acquittal. Naive.
This naivety and the belief that truth will set him free is typical of some of his dealings with the Royal Commission. In those cases, his adherence to truth actually did him no favours. While lesser men would have embellished their evidence with feigned regret; embroidered their feelings or motivations in the past, Pell was brutally honest about himself, e.g. “It (stories of priests molesting children) was not something that attracted my attention.” Commentators never gave him credit for his utter devotion to the truth despite it making him appear aloof, callous, cold and lacking empathy.
But again, Pell thinks that his devotion to the truth will spare him. It’s not that simple!
The forces that have been chasing the Church (with good justification, one might add) for many years, are not interested in truth anymore, though they may feign sympathy for victims. In fact, the causes of the victims are part of a much bigger agenda.
Pell seems to be assuming that the reason that these charges have been raised are because the victims are mistaken or they are lying. In either case he seems to think that it is just a matter for him to refute the accusations, speak the truth and all will be settled; case closed!
Are those behind these accusations – not the victims but those who are promoting them – going to settle for Pell’s truth? Establishing truth after twenty, forty, fifty years is far from simple and they know that. They don’t need to find the truth, just undermine trust in Pell’s testimony. They don’t even need to challenge the content of Pell’s testimony, just the way he presents it. They really only need to show Pell’s indifference to the victims and they will have won. Besides that, they will be happy for the truth to be obscured, to be tainted with ambiguity, insinuation, to be muddied by subtle half-truths and inferences. They haven’t come thus far to fail. They will have plenty of cards to play and a few aces up their sleeves. They don’t intend to lose now.