I assume that everyone has heard about Boris Johnson’s difficulty in knowing whether a gathering for celebration where everyone brings their own alcoholic beverages constitutes a party. For those of you who may not know the story, I’ll summarize. In May 2020, when Britain lockdown rules provided that Britons could only meet one other person outdoors. Prime Minister Johnson attended a gathering billed as a “bring your own booze” party at his residence. His excuse was that he thought it was a work event and didn’t realize it was a party. It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode where George Constanza commits an egregious offense at work and then asks his boss “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon . . .” It was further revealed that his staffers also held a party the night before the funeral of Prince Philip last spring. The picture in my mind of that party is juxtaposed with the picture above of Queen Elizabeth sitting alone in a pew during the funeral because of Covid restrictions.
No one should be surprised that a politician engages in hypocrisy. I suspect that all of us have engaged in hypocritical activities on occasion. My kids point mine out to me all the time. But when leaders pressure those they lead to uphold standards that they then ignore, it feels worse. As Max Fisher wrote in the New York Times last Sunday, “The reason, some psychologists believe, is that moral hypocrisy represents, in a way, an attack on the social contract itself.” He added “Since our origin as a species, societies have functioned on an implicit pact: each of us is better off if we all contribute to the common good, even if it means giving some things up.” But this social construct only works if each person believes that everyone else will do the same. “If that collapses, so do each individual’s incentive to serve the common good.”
I like the feeling that there are others, including those I have never met and will never meet, who are collectively working toward the common good that serves my family and me. When I’m in a situation where I could take advantage, such as cutting to the front of the traffic line, I try to remember that I’m not the only one who could ignore the rules and how difficult and dangerous the world would be without people contributing to the common good.
This week’s selection is:
Follow the Money (Prime Video)
Danish crime-drama following the illegal activities of corporate crime circles, fraudsters and opportunists. The story begins near a wind farm off the coast of Denmark, where a lifeless body is found washed ashore. Police detective Mads is on the case, which at first looks like it could've been an unfortunate accident. However upon further investigation the detective finds signs linking the death to Denmark's leading energy company Energreen. As Mads delves deeper into the mystery he finds a web of suspicious dealings within the organization.