CHAPTER TWELVE: Output
Integrity of Output is a man’s Dominion over his words and deeds. It is the last (after wholesomeness of Input and purity of Heart) of the only three areas of life over which a man has authority. integrated Output is consistency between what a man believes and what he says and does. Superficially, this may seem synonymous with the avoidance of hypocrisy, but integrated Output is significantly more than that. To understand that we need to spend some time on the concept of hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy has two forms. First, there is the doing of something for which one has previously criticized another. Second, there is the claiming of a particular standard that one’s own behavior consistently fails to meet. Both forms of hypocrisy share the common element of having first communicated a mode of behavior that establishes an expectation in the mind of the recipient.
Thus, If I criticize Ned because he speeds on Providence Road, he (or anyone else who hears it) would reasonably form the expectation that: a) I believe Ned to have acted un-virtuously for having sped on Providence Road; and b) that I myself would not speed on Providence Road.
Alternatively, if I announce my firm belief that speeding on Providence Road is dangerous, people will reasonably expect me to refrain from doing it myself, because it would appear from my articulated standard that I believe that subjecting my fellow motorists to danger would be un-virtuous.
Regardless of which form in which I engage, if I myself then receive a speeding ticket on Providence Road, Ned or those who heard me say it was dangerous to do so, would naturally consider me to be guilty of hypocrisy. Having criticized Ned for the same behavior and/or having articulated a standard of safety to which I then failed to conform; I have engaged in “play-acting”—which is the Greek meaning of the root of the word hypocrisy.
By my play-acting, I have pretended to be a person who believes that speeding on Providence Road is dangerous and un-virtuous, when I am in fact no such person. My speeding ticket forces me to drop the mask and reveal who I really am, which is a person who thinks that it is okay to speed on Providence Road—at least for me under some circumstances.
What makes hypocrisy different from dis-integrated Output is the matter of the underlying belief. The hypocrite is not violating his beliefs by engaging in behavior for which he has previously criticized another (or that doesn’t meet his articulated standard) because he was only play-acting. By his conduct, we can see that he never had those beliefs in the first place, but just pretended to have them to advance a political, social, or personal agenda.
Integrated Output is different because it is premised upon something a man truly believes.
Although hypocrisy has become a cultural sin of the highest magnitude, I personally don’t care much about it. Of course people play-act. It’s about as common and vulgar as picking one’s nose in public—but it’s also just about as consequential. So, I don’t get mad when a political, religious, or cultural figure is caught in an act of rank hypocrisy. Instead, I’m gratified, because his actions have forced him to drop the mask he was wearing and disclose what he truly believes, which frees me to put what what he says in the proper context.
Likewise, when I am caught in an act of hypocrisy. While it’s embarrassing in the short run, in the long run it frees me from having to play-act that I hold true to something that I don’t actually believe. Often it is something I thought I believed, but my actions have informed me otherwise. When that happens, I can get angry and try to distinguish my conduct from the standard I previously set, or I can choose the harder path and be grateful that I have been set free from having to hold a mask over my face. On my best days I choose the latter.
Integrated Output is distinct from hypocrisy because it is premised upon an underlying belief that is not a mere public posture one assumes to advance an agenda but is rather something foundational to soul and spirit. As such, it is immaterial whether I have ever publicly communicated it to anyone. If it is something I hold to be true and I violate it through word or deed, my Output has become dis-integrated even if I have never publicly criticized anyone or articulated my belief as a personal standard.
Likewise, even I have communicated my belief as a standard of conduct but violate it privately in a manner known only to me, my Output is still dis-integrated even though I have never been accused of hypocrisy—because I know it to be true. These are not beliefs I am play-acting. I either have them or I don’t, and I either conform to them or fail to do so. Whether I ever communicate them publicly or am caught violating them doesn’t matter. I know, and because I am a man of faith, I believe that the Creator knows as well, and that is far more important to me.
This concept of integrated Output presupposes the existence of at least some beliefs. Not everyone believes in the existence of the Creator or the heavenly virtues, but all (sane) humans share a belief in the desirability of their own Happiness.
Happiness is a transitory positive feeling governed by external circumstance. It is distinct from Joy, which is the permanent state of hopeful satisfaction that is undiminished by external circumstance. So, for example, while a man standing in the cold rain is unlikely to be Happy because he is suffering physically in the moment, he could still be Joyful because his hope warms his spirit even while the elements freeze his flesh.
This belief in the desirability of one’s own Happiness is the driving force of the Passive, who considers it to be best achieved by maintaining his status quo, the place from which derives his perceived sense of comfort and safety. Naturally, he views anything that threatens his status quo, like pain and Chaos, as inimical to his Happiness.
Because pain is emotional or physical hardship, the Passive tries to avoid it. Because Chaos is uncontrollable circumstance, the Passive hopes it it will go away. Passives do not understand that enduring hardship and overcoming Chaos—undesirable as that might be in the short run—are the keys to obtaining Joy in the long run because it fosters Durability of body and soul. The Durable man is Joyful because he doesn’t fear hardship and knows that Chaos will only last for a season if he can Adapt and keep moving.
To avoid hardship and Chaos, the Passive will succumb to the siren song of the Controller who promises him eternal Happiness in exchange for his Dominion.
“Ingest what I tell you to ingest; think what I tell you to think; and do what I tell you to do. If you follow my program to the letter,” the Controller tells the Passive, “you will never again have to feel any pain or face any Chaos and you can be blissfully and ignorantly Happy for the rest of your life.”
It’s a lie of course, told not for the benefit of the Passive but to advance the Controller’s chimeric objective of determining events and directing the actions of others toward the utopia of what Should Be.
Controllers are often caught in acts of hypocrisy because the behavior and standards that they promote are only outwardly applicable. Unlike the Adapter, who believes that he only has Dominion over his own Output, the Controller’s zeal to direct the actions of others takes precedence over a frank accounting of his own behavior. He believes that his heartfelt commitment to everyone’s Happiness exempts him from the very rules to which he demands they adhere.
The Zebra Jockey is far less likely to be caught in an act of hypocrisy because he is more focused on the Integrity of his own words and deeds than he is the actions of others. If he does publicly pronounce a standard of conduct that reflects a strongly held belief, he will generally institute a means of private enforcement that acts as a guardrail against its violation.
For the Zebra Jockey, it is not the fear of public shame that keeps him from acts of hypocrisy, but the inward desire to conform with what he truly believes and the efforts he takes to be held accountable to those beliefs. Unlike the Controller, the Zebra Jockey is subject to a set of Governing Principles arising from his firmly held beliefs that form a standard of conduct to which he is committed to adhere—regardless of circumstance.
Because I am an Adapter by nature and nurture there has never been a time when I willingly surrendered my Dominion in exchange for the fatuous promise of eternal Happiness. I discovered the merits of the harder path early on in life and accepted that periods of hardship and Chaos were not only inevitable but were necessary for my development as a man. By the time my military service had ended, I was a Chaos junkie who was addicted to uncontrollable circumstance.
But I didn’t see that as part of any grand design initiated and governed by a supernatural authority. Like the author of Invictus, my eyes flashing with pride, I proclaimed myself “master of my fate” and “captain of my soul”. I assumed that my beliefs were self-generated rather than derived from a set of external truths or virtues which I had received from above rather than produced from within. And in truth, the only thing that I truly believed then was that a man must never quit in the face of Adversity, that he had to continue moving down the harder path when confronted with a Chaotic fork in the road. At that time of my life my credo (had I thought of such things) would have been Temperari Dolor et Chao and I would have been very proud of it, inordinately so.
Ironically, what would ultimately change this viewpoint was not an overdose of pain and Chaos that left me staggering in self-doubt, but rather those periods of my life when both were absent. Tempered for hardship as I might have been, I was oddly ill-equipped for periods of ease and comfort. In the storm I would persevere, prosper even, but in its quiet aftermath (when there was no harder path for me to tread) I would stumble. Chaos junkie that I was, I couldn’t function when life did not present me with Obstacles, so I would periodically create my own by screwing up.
To counteract that tendency, I tried engaging in various secular accountability systems to help keep me integrated, but none was fully successful because they each lacked something very significant—an overarching and divine purpose.
It wasn’t until I finally laid down my life, and let the Creator begin transforming me into what He knew I Could Be, that I was free to see hardship and Chaos not as random events, but as Obstacles He deliberately placed in my path for my benefit. When I encountered one, I only had to trust Him, peddle harder and let the momentum carry me through. In contrast, when I was on the smooth parts of the trail, I was supposed to enjoy the ease and comfort that He chose to provide me in the moment, because that wasn’t random either.