Conscience can be a slippery thing, if we allow it so, eventually fluctuating under the waves of circumstances around us, by which we may be buffeted, tossed and turned. So sayeth Saint Jude of those who maintain not a steady and serene peace of mind and soul, that they are waterless clouds, carried along by winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted, wild waves of the sea, calling up the foam of their own shame, wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever.
We may add the purported words of Thomas More to his daughter Meg, which I quoted a few days ago in another context:
When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water (he cups his hands) and if he opens his fingers then, he needn’t hope to find himself again. Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathe to think your father one of them.
It is with this in mind that I recommend a perusal of Father George Rutler’s take on the Jekyl and Hyde persona of Joseph Biden, who is the front-runner Democratic candidate, and, depending on how things turn out, could be the next President of the United States. His flip-flopping on such fundamental principles as the life of the unborn, and their right thereto, and the reality of what marriage and family are, signifies a conscience either is not formed aright, or one that is, to which he has learned not to listen. What comes across is one wandering and being carried along by the winds of political opportunism and the current zeitgeist, as are so many.
We would hope that Biden’s conscience firms up in the right direction, before God asks of him what he did, and did not, to protect His little ones.
As today’s Collect at Mass beseeches the Almighty, which we hope we may all put into effect:
O God, from whom all good things come,
Grant that we, who call on you in our need,
May at your prompting discern what is right, and by your guidance do it.
So listen to that still small voice, Senator Biden, and do the right thing.
And on the note of a taste of one’s own medicine, a media company has released a ‘deep fake’ of Mark Zuckerberg, a very life-like video of him saying things, to his and his social media empire’s own detriment, that he would never say in ‘real’ life. As the article ‘quotes’ Mr. Zuckerberg, turning him into some sort of bizarro Bond-esque villain, which may not be that far from the truth, after all:
Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures…I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future.”
Deep fakes are composites of one’s image and voice, pieced together by highly complex computer algorithms – ‘artificial intelligence’, if you will – that can ‘make’ people do and say whatever one wants them to do – and, in a strange twist to the Turing test, they are very difficult to detect, that is, between the real and the fake.
The original was a more mundane video of Mr. Zuckerberg giving an address in 2017 on Russian interference in the American election via FaceBook. Ironic. FaceBook has claimed that it will not censor such videos, so we’ll see what they do with this one.
Continuing the theme of controlling truth, it seems that Pinterest, in which I have little interest, but many do, it seems, has been deliberately blocking conservatives, Christians, pro-lifers, Bible verses, amongst numerous other sources of truth, labelling them, and hence blacklisting them, ironically, as ‘porn’. Odd, since the term ‘porn’ is from the Greek, porneia, prostitution, or porne, a prostitute, which, in its verb form, seem to be what Pinterest has done with its own principles.
Of course, like all social ills, these actions may be traced back to individual persons. See the prayer for the right use of conscience, above.