Hillary (you know the one) gave a commencement speech at Wellesley recently, in which she was introduced as Hillary D. Rodham (HDR). The theme, in so far as I could decipher one, seemed to be about 3 words: integrity, trust and respect. Except, her definitions weren’t quite what you would find in a dictionary, or more to the point, she didn’t really define them at all, because “Those three words mean different things to all of us.”
THAT’S THE PROBLEM HILLARY! SUBSTITUTING THIS TYPE OF MUSHY SUBJECTIVITY FOR PLAIN LANGUAGE AND SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS.
Here’s her excuse: “Many of the issues that I’ve mentioned—those of sharing power and responsibility, those of assuming power and responsibility—have been general concerns on campuses throughout the world. But underlying those concerns there is a theme, a theme which is so trite and so old because the words are so familiar. It talks about integrity and trust and respect. Words have a funny way of trapping our minds on the way to our tongues but there are necessary means even in this multimedia age for attempting to come to grasps with some of the inarticulate maybe even inarticulable things that we’re feeling.”
Let’s compare some historical definitions of these three words to her musings.
Integrity: According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility.
HDR definition: “Integrity, the courage to be whole, to try to mold an entire person in this particular context, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence.”
Merriam-Webster. Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.
HDR: What can you say about it? What can you say about a feeling that permeates a generation and that perhaps is not even understood by those who are distrusted?
Merriam-Webster. Respect: A high or special regard: esteem.
HDR: And then respect. There’s that mutuality of respect between people where you don’t see people as percentage points. Where you don’t manipulate people. Where you’re not interested in social engineering for people. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences.
It seems to me that the real national divide is between plain speaking and mushy meanderings.