I was watching ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ the other night and was struck by Tennessee Williams’ use of language in the script, brought out beautifully by Paul Newman and Burl Ives in a scene that could only be described as riveting. And the key word here was ‘mendacity’ – a lovely word used to describe ‘deliberate untruthfulness’ or ‘the quality or state of being mendacious’, ‘telling lies, esp. habitually; dishonest; lying; untruthful’, a mendacious person, false or untrue: a mendacious report’. As Big Daddy Pollit (Burl Ives) says to his alchoholic son Brick (Paul Newman), referring to the rest of the family: “What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it, Brick? Didn’t you notice the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?”
Bringing this scenario closer to home, it seemed to me that this ‘powerful and obnoxious smell of mendacity’ is overpowering in the politics of this country. It is so ‘in your face’ that most folk just take it for granted and as a way of life that they can really do very little or absolutely nothing about. It is by no means a recent phenomenon, but it does appear that the present regime have taken it to new and dizzying heights. If we cast our minds back to the not too distant past we will no doubt remember the various MOUs signed between Mahinda Rajapakse and all manner of ‘partners’ to all sorts of ‘agreements’. Never mind that the substance of the one over-rode or contradicted the substance of the other – it never appeared to faze any of the signatories. Those of us who were perceptive enough to realize that none of them was worth an ounce of rat-shit, were not surprised at the various outcomes, as they all disintegrated with the mendacious machinations of the powers that be.
The politics of mendacity, then, looks like it has secured a comfortable niche in our system of governance and the general view among the more perceptive is that this is a culture – like some insidious virus – that will evolve into a disease that will overpower the host, resulting in a free-for-all among the scavengers to feast on the corpse of a once functioning democracy.
The problem with mendacity being accepted to such a degree that thousands of voting citizens appear to be oblivious to it, is that it perpetuates the culture of acceptance – in spite of all the blatant evidence against the mendacious personalities that renege on their promises and spew rationale and excuses when confronted with their mendacity. And what is worse, is that it doesn’t seem to matter what evidence is brought to bear on favored individuals, no action is taken to investigate and prosecute if the results of the investigations warrant it, but very often the individuals are placed in positions akin to putting the cat amongst the pigeons – and the resons for this are oh so obvious.
What then is the solution – or ‘cure’ if you will – to this sinister disease? How to flush out the poison and return to a state of healthy interaction with all forces – whether they agree with one’s views or not? How do we stop the mendacious trend that threatens to engulf us all?
Shuurree is a mudder-fuker maaan – like where do we go from here? All dem portant posishuns be filled wit dem butt-likkers who be doin like dey be told, so dat law be a virchual impotent lot of verbiage – know where I be comin from maaan? Dis be som seeriaass sheet!
I guess Java’s view is pretty much hitting the spot, so it looks like this culture of mendacity has infected the political culture to such an extent that unless some radical shift in the morality of the system takes place, it looks like we’re on a downhill slide to who knows where?