“Euphemism – a mild, pleasant or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.” Examples: euthanasia or “mercy” killing means intentional bringing premature death to a sick or elderly victim. Abortion means killing a baby.
It’s interesting how fictitious movies can reflect the currents of reality. I often find myself viewing films, music videos and visual arts from the sensory perspective of how reality can actually be stranger than fiction.
In light of these perusals, I find myself meditating on how classic literary and film projects like THE GIVER and THE GODFATHER apply euphemisms that reveal so much about humanity while euthanizing the darker side of human nature. Both films cloak violence in terms like “lose” a person rather than kill a person; “release” a baby or elderly person rather than kill the person; and assigning a “consigliere”(a new word for me) to “eliminate” perceived threats to a system or a dynasty.
During recent morning meditations, I paused to reflect on recent conversations with law enforcement and military personnel. They all told me pretty much the same thing – that soldiers and police are trained not to “neutralize” (as in stop) but to “eliminate” (as in kill) threats.
Reflection on these conversations led me to consider how “keepers of the peace” sometimes use “excessive force.” I remembered facing guns, dogs, bombs, water hoses and billy clubs in the 20th Century Civil Rights Era; which ironically is being replayed in Ferguson today.
Still ruminating… The innocent womb babies flash across the scene. Raw, ruthless power causes them to lose their lives before they can see the sunlight.
Now come young people like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Lakisha Wilson, Tonya Reaves, the beheaded American journalists and British aid worker, the Black on Black killings in Chicago, and on and on and on…
Enter “The Consigliere Factor.” The word “consigliere” comes from the Italian, meaning counselor or advisor; most famously for an organized crime boss.
In medieval times, nobles/consiglieres of a conquered court would make themselves available to the new monarch. Only the most trusted and knowledgeable nobleman could become a consigliere and could serve several generations of ruling families.
Today, some politicians or other public figures might also depend on the services of consiglieres. Since the Godfather movies made the term infamous, though, political candidates don’t use that word for their “advisors.”
Various celebrities also use the services of a consigliere to help navigate their careers. Their agents, publicists, directors and the like may have their own agendas, so it is not unusual for in-demand celebrities to seek the opinion of trusted advisors before signing any contracts.
Often the advisor, whether in politics-land or celebrity-ville, is a close friend or family member. If the advisor is not as wise as he or his patron thinks he is things can become very rocky.
So let me tie all of this together.
Maybe too many of today’s important decisions are being guided by powerful consiglieres who lean on their own limited wisdom instead of God’s. Most likely, this has been the case since the fall of man.
The Founders of America tried to rein in this prideful tendency of human exaltation. Early on, America, with all our faults, was “one nation under God.” Somewhere along the way we have forgotten God and relied on the so-called “experts” who do what is wise in their own eyes.
Have we become a nation guided by consiglieres?
Before I sound too negative toward consiglieres, advisors, or consultants, let me point out that Proverbs 15:22 reminds us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Yet Proverbs also tells us, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.”
The best course of action, to end sickness, poverty, war, racism and all problems, is to seek many advisors who look to God for wisdom, not to their own understanding.
According to “Consigliere 101” however, the expert alone knows best. She or he believes he is the source of wisdom and he is only too happy to tell us what to do.
So, when the consigliere tells a soldier or law officer to see people as threats, it is easier for the officer to empty a clip or a magazine into a “target” than it is to remember that the target is a human being. After all, it’s easier to use excessive force to kill a target than an acknowledged fellow human being.
Of course, some people really are threats. Police and soldiers face real danger to their lives and safety on a daily, if not moment-by-moment basis. And just as they need to remember that those they serve are created in God’s image, so must we, the public, remember that law and military enforcement officers are made in God’s image, are meant to serve us, and are often willing to give their lives for us.
What I’m concerned about is the mindset that is created when we forget God. Life becomes less significant, less sacred.
Now, I’m wondering if Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby are guided by the Consigliere Factor. Think about it. According to the abortion lobby, the baby in the womb isn’t a human being, he or she is a “threat” to the mother’s emotional health or finances or reproductive freedom. So, eliminate the threat.
I may be whistling into the wind here. People may think I’m being silly, but it seems that we are putting our confidence in the wrong place these days. We seem to be depending solely on human advisors and weapons of war. We are forgetting that the Bible is the final authority.
We need to go back to striving to be “one nation under God.” We need to “know The Prince of Peace who will meet out truth and justice.” We need to really mean “In God we trust.”