Taboo or Tabu? Our dictionary gives the meaning of either of these words as “proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable.” And here I sit, scratching my head trying to think of a tabu for our American society that would actually cause outrage.
Still sitting . . .
Oh yes! Murder is still tabu. Well, mostly murder is against the law unless it is justified or if there are extenuating circumstances. Maybe that is not a good choice.
Scratching my head . . .
What is the worst thing I can think of in terms of things that are “prohibited” by our society? I can think of all KINDS of things that we accept that seem somewhat improper to me: Lying is one thing that pretty well disgusts the average person. But then we turn on the television and listen to the lies of advertisers, politicians, the different members of the media, and those in corporate positions or even on Wall Street. Lying is ok apparently, if it is expedient. It sells products and convinces John Q. Public that he can believe the unbelievable.
Maybe the term lie itself needs to be examined to see if, like murder, there are extenuating circumstances or justifications that I somehow missed before. Surely someone thought that breaking vows could not become a type of lie. “A solemn promise” can’t become a lie, can it. Well, now that I think about it, I suppose that depends on who is promising what to whom.
Fidelity, loyalty, honor, (let’s go ahead and leave out chastity) are all just terms in the dictionary. Is the mere absence of these words—or characteristics—a sure sign of a lie? What should I look for to discern between a lie and something that is not a lie? Somehow I suspect that this research is going to take me into the realm of truth, fiction, falsehood. Who knows, maybe I am on the way to laying the groundwork for the great American story—The Rise and Fall of an Honorable People.