Truth and Lies; A Discussion of Morality and Ethics With Help From Telepaths and Priests

Theoretically speaking, telepathy is one of the greatest superpowers ever conceived. If an individual could control the mind of another, paradigms such as super strength, flight, invisibility, teleportation, a magic ring, or even an advanced suit of armour would be entirely useless under the influence of that telepath. Given enough mental capacity, a telepath would be able to control the minds of a monumental gathering of people, change certain personality traits and characteristics, and, effectively, render the concept of free will obsolete. That being said, if a telepath were to exist, nothing short of Deus Ex Machina (divine intervention) would be able to stop them from recreating the world in their image.

Therein lies the problem with telepathy as a plot device (since the idea’s inception); under every conceivable circumstance, a telepath cannot be stopped without a stronger mental force, or a device designed to impede telepathy. The main reason being that, if a telepath is the hero of a story, nothing can stop them from ending every conflict in existence; an evil telepath, contrarily, has no adversary. Except, of course, for the McGuffin. Charles Xavier, a heroic Marvel telepath from the X-Men universe is one such example. Despite his near omnipotence, Xavier’s only weaknesses are actual Gods, more intelligent characters (though, simply put, no human is smarter than Charles Xavier) and the helmet of his lifelong antithesis Erik Lensher (also known as Magneto). Possessing a helmet that impedes telepathic waves, Lensher is impervious to Xavier’s psionic powers; specifically speaking, Xavier can neither control, nor read the mind of Lensher.

Magneto’s helmet, of course, is absolutely unnecessary as Xavier’s ethics specifically stop him from invasively reading or controlling the minds of villains, so-called “Bad guys,” his students, friends, and companions. His moral code comes and goes with the writing staff, however, and, while some instances have Xavier doing anything to stop a villain, others have him reading their minds and ending his input outright. Disregarding these creative interferences, Xavier’s ethics and moral codes help raise a rather interesting philosophical point: if a human being had the power, is it right for them to change the world? Though, this situation alludes to an individual, or character, knowing that something is wrong and it is this concept of “knowing” that leads to a new situation altogether.

Priest, for example, is a film where the main character is a vampire hunting priest led to believe that the vampire menace he, and his fallen comrades once faced, has been eradicated. Through a series of poorly written turns and plot based jumps, the main Priest discovers that the vampires have returned. It is evident that his superiors are aware of the development and, while it would be far more logical to alert the general public to the potential danger, the clergymen refuse to publicly (or privately, for that matter) acknowledge the return of the threat. The questions the film poses (and never acknowledges, let alone answers) are still topics of popular debate. The Priest discovers that vampires still exist and his superiors (despite the fact that the clearly know this is the truth), disregard and dismiss his theories as maniacal and blasphemous. To insure the salvation of the people he once protected, the Priest risks his life, once again, and goes against his superiors to stop the threat.

Despite this being a staple plot for the desperate writer, the situation raises a very important question: if there is something else that can handle the job, should we, as a collective, be aware that a problem exists? For a moment, allow me to provide an alternate scenario: if I broke a vase, but I was able to fix it in a way that would leave no evidence of the act, should I bother telling the owner of the vase? Should the owner of the vase be told the truth, that their vase was, at a point, broken? Or should they be left believing a lie, that the item that was once whole, is now nothing more than a collection of pieces and invisible (and incredibly powerful) glue? Notice that I used the definitive terms “truth and lie”, because that really is what it comes down to. If I don’t tell the owner, I’m lying to them, but if I do tell them, I’m speaking the truth and I have not broken my moral and ethical code; therefore, my conscience is clear. Despite this sense of spiritual bliss, the opinion that the vase owner once had of me has now been eradicated. I have broken one of their possessions, fixed it without consulting them first, and have lied to them outright.

So what do we, as a collective, do about lies? More importantly, is it right for us to take action just because we can? Most importantly, if we can, should we review and change situations to suit our own visions? Is it “right?” Is it “acceptable?” I don’t know and, honestly speaking, the concepts of morality and ethics cannot boil down to a matter of “right” or “wrong” because when applied to a large scale example, or any example really, the concepts of “good” and “bad” or “the truth” and “a lie” depend entirely on the judge and the jury. Therefore, I would like to conclude with a rather straightforward sentence, once again reflecting this month’s theme of life’s difficulties. Life is undeniably difficult and confusing, but don’t waste your time by letting someone else live it for you.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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