There’s an old adage that the Italian people put up with the tyranny of Benito Mussolini because he made the trains run on time. He brought order to the chaos would be another way of looking at it. The adage is not true. No one ever said that about Mussolini. In fact the trains were worse under him, sometimes not running at all.
What is true about this story is that performance excuses immorality. I heard this the other night at a men’s Bible study. It’s a quote from the late R.C. Sproul in a lecture series filmed in the 1980s. Sproul uses as an example, Hollywood stars who married and divorced 6, 7 or 8 times in a time when divorce was taboo, but people still flocked to their movies—because their performance, their talent excused their immorality.
Give me what I want and I’ll look the other way on your behavior.
We live by this concept today. We want what we want and will align ourselves with whoever can fulfill our desires. We often excuse faults because we’re getting what we want. The Harvey Weinsteins of this world don’t operate in a vacuum—people knew but they kept silent. Why? Was it because he was their gravy train? Oprah can make an passionate speech at the Golden Globes about women standing up for themselves (to be applauded for sure; no one deserves to be treated the way these men used these women), but yet there are pictures upon pictures of her hugging on Weinstein—did she know what he was doing to women? We don’t know; but, she is a smart person….
Performance excuses immorality
Have we done this with our leaders? Kennedy and Clinton with their womanizing come to mind. Did the press keep FDRs condition out of the news because the nation couldn’t imagine him not being president as World War II drew to a close? We liked their results and excused their behaviors or conditions.
Are we doing this today with Donald Trump? Are we overlooking his faults because the economy is improving?
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil
who put darkness for light and light for darkness
• Isaiah 5:20a