fable (n.) — a short tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters; apologue: the fable of the tortoise and the hare; Aesop’s fables.
The idea of moral tales in literature is, in terms of the current narrative in Hollywood, the programming offices of the major networks and the ivy covered halls of academia, a desiccated idea that has no sway over modern (i.e., liberal/Progressive approved) story telling.
Yet one moral tale is told again and again in modern culture. It is the story of the unfaithful spouse, usually a man, who is a serial betrayer of his long suffering wife. Yet in this day and age, the ending of the suffering of said spouse is relatively easy to achieve through divorce. Or, if the format is a crime drama, having hubby shot/stabbed/poisoned by the wife.
So why do our televised morality plays offer this as a solution? Because that would shift the plot of the story from one where retribution is inflicted on the wayward spouse, and the story becomes one of the struggles the wife faces as she tries bravely to enter a world that is unfamiliar territory. Now what could have been a true morality play (with, you know, an actual moral message) becomes just a mundane tale about a woman’s lack of coping skills.
The most pathetic part of these semi-morality plays is the fact that in all of them, the wife knows that her husband is cheating, she knows that he is unfaithful, and he invariable finds greater pleasure in the arms of a younger or more attractive woman, but for financial reasons, he refuses to seek a divorce because he knows that he won’t be faithful to any future spouse either.
They key to the pathos is that the wife always takes the husband back. He apologizes for not paying enough attention to her, he buys her flowers, takes her to dinner, tells her that he loves her, while we (the audience) has already seen him arrange another dalliance. We know he’s a serial liar.
Now, about this point you’re asking yourself “Hey, Yardley, what’s with all the literary criticism? Do you think all of us watch soap operas?”
The answer is of course not. I don’t think many people actually watch soaps. But I do think, politically speaking, that we all effectively live in a soap opera. A soap opera about those serially cheating spouses and how we keep taking those spouses back for nothing more than just a fist full of daisies.
But wait, you say, my spouse is faithful. Or my spouse has passed away, so there’s nothing applicable. Or I’m a single person, where is the commonality? Well, if you’ll recall, I did say that we were speaking in political terms, not actually spousal fidelity.
In political terms, the unfaithful spouse is the Senator, Congressman, President, well any elected official for that matter, who you “married” years ago and who has been serially unfaithful to you since then…except just before an election. That’s when he or she comes crawling back to you, promising on a stack of bibles (or at least their own campaign literature) that they will be true until the end of time.
And every two, four or six years the electorate falls for it again. And again. And again.
Until election time, the elected spouse is too busy to even attend too many town-hall type meetings because they have “prior commitments.” The commitments they’ve made to the very, very appealing special interest groups who have much bigger, let’s just say, assets. Assets such as bigger bank accounts for bigger campaign contributions. They will promise the special interests that they will introduce legislation to kill the coal industry, and they assure voters who work in the mines that they really, really love you, and don’t toss them out of the house (or Senate as the case may be).
They may even bring metaphorical flowers, in the form of special government freebees like grants, to prove how much they love the voters. And the voter’s hearts melt, and then they vote the lying, cheating, philandering scum back into office again.
Think it’s an exaggeration? Just look at the rate that sitting members of Congress get re-elected.
Tiger Woods doesn’t win this often! And it certainly doesn’t reflect the real (i.e. non-political) world. I mean, seriously, if that high a percentage of betrayed spouses were willing to take back their straying partners, wouldn’t the divorce rate be a lot lower?
And finally, as for those of you who vote for the same person again and again because they “bring home the bacon”, you are really selling yourselves out for less than Esau did in the Bible.
To refresh your memory, Esau was the lad who came in from working hard in the fields and was really, really hungry. His brother offered him a bowl of pottage, which doesn’t exactly sound appetizing no matter what it actually is, in exchange for his birthright. He gave up his inheritance for just a bowl of pottage. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer that fellow Esau, now was he?
Yet he is actually smarter than we are when we keep re-electing the same posse of criminals and incompetents election cycle after election cycle. Yes, Esau only got a bowl of pottage, while the voters get block grants. Except for one telling difference.
Esau’s brother actually paid for the pottage. Politicians first take your money from you, and when they return a small portion of it, they expect you to wriggle like puppies, voter for them again, and accept that they will be unfaithful – again.
Yep, it sure seems like Esau made out like a bandit by comparison. At least it’s something to think about when you pull the curtain behind you in the voting booth for the next primary or general election.