IF YOU SEEK TRUTH IN THIS WORLD and act on it, hold to it, make it your litmus test for friendship and authenticity, then pursue it with all your heart, in yourself and in the world — for all your days, to the best of your ability — you will inevitably experience the scourge of betrayal, not just once but many times. For the sensitive soul who has not yet become pityingly accustomed to such things, there is no worse torture on earth than betrayal. It will leave multiple whelks on your back like no other — deep scars which mark you for life. It is akin to being abandoned, but far worse because at the same time you have to witness the abandoners selling their own souls for a mere pittance.
The full horror of betrayal is rarely noticed by the casual observer. It is often a shadow — a hidden lash of the whip escaping the gaze of prying eyes. Therefore, betrayal often takes place in secret, as if it is ashamed of itself, as it rightly should be. It rarely shows itself in all its colours unless it is sought out and prised open by those who are able to perceive it — i.e. those who have dedicated their lives to truth and integrity to the best of their ability (for we all fall sometimes, if only a little). Mostpeople have not the stomach to uncover it. In fact, mostpeople are the purveyors of it. For mostpeople — being emotionally crippled and spiritually bankrupt — are cowards, and cowardice is the fulcrum of betrayal. Mostpeople are even unable to recognise betrayal unless it is prised open for them. For example, a superficial reading of the book, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, will leave the casual reader merely with the impression of a dystopian totalitarian society which must be avoided at all costs; and that has become its reputation — that it serves as some kind of warning. But “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is really a detailed study in betrayal, depicting the horrors of it on multiple levels. When it is read through these eyes, a whole new understanding of the book opens up. Big Brother, as a moniker of absolute power, fear, and false authority, can ONLY survive on the basis of mass betrayal throughout society; for betrayal is the ultimate divider and underminer by which such despots can rule. People are encouraged to betray others among their families, friends, and neighbours. Even children are encouraged to betray their own parents. The love of betrayal is so complete that one man says how proud he is that his daughter reported him to the authorities. Government has substituted benign leadership for rapacious tyranny — a betrayal of that leadership and a betrayal of the people. The media, as a mere tool of the state, is the epitome of the betrayal of truth and journalistic integrity. Room 101 is the theatre of countless betrayals. The state interrogator, O’Brien, is a master betrayal-enabler, for the integrity of the human is always broken through enforced betrayal. The main character, Winston, and his lover, Julia, betray each other and even betray love itself. In the end, Winston even betrays his own principles and virtue as a human being through his love for Big Brother, who he originally hated and worked against. “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is a study in, and a terrible indictment of, the human act of betrayal.
Totalitarian societies and dysfunctional communities can only operate on the basis of betrayal: Betrayal of morality and ethics, betrayal of leadership, betrayal of friendship, betrayal of love, betrayal of the other, betrayal of honour, betrayal of virtue, betrayal of truth, betrayal of one’s own integrity and self. And self-betrayal is the absolute harbinger of the betrayal of others, as evidenced in Shakespeare’s emphatic words of Polonius as the climax of his advice to his son Laertes in the play, Hamlet: “This above all: To thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”. The wisdom in those words is deep beyond measure. One must work on oneself first, identifying and eradicating one’s own darkness and corruption, then one can be a light in the world of truth and honour. This is the complete opposite of how those who seek to control others operate. Tyranny and dictatorship are based on the fact that the despot completely ignores his or her own darkness and inhumanity (in fact, denies their existence) and projects it onto others, while trying to control everyone else and change them according to their own twisted desires, publicly calumniating them, and assassinating their characters and even their very lives. Betrayal on multiple levels then become inevitable. On the other hand, the self-aware person who relishes self-improvement could never be the perpetrator of betrayal and would never seek to control any other human being.
Betrayal is a denial of the humanity of the other. It is a form of homicide, even genocide if unchecked. It is certainly no coincidence that a kiss — an ironic axis upon which the future outcome of this cosmos was hinged — was instrumental in the betrayal of the Christ to the authorities and to his death, and for a paltry thirty pieces of silver (the equivalent today of about $200). The very name “Judas” has become synonymous with the act of betrayal. Let us also not forget the betrayal by (the afterwards penitent) Peter, foretold by the Christ with the words, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times” — a terrible warning about infidelity to one’s friends, to truth, to the Light, and to the Source of all life. In keeping with this, the decline of any civilisation will be generously peppered with, and rooted in, betrayal. For degeneracy and corruption in human affairs will inevitably spawn it. Consequently, we can see betrayal all around us now as this idolatrous, materialist, narcissistic “civilisation” inevitably implodes and self-destructs.
If I may sum up… Betrayal is without a doubt satanic (for the fallen archangel we now call Satan was the original betrayer by turning a vast number of angels against their Creator), and the mass enablement of betrayal among humans is a supernatural feather in the cap of the forces of darkness in their rampage across this world to own humanity and eradicate love and truth before the final cataclysmic denouement of civilisation and the transmutation of this cosmos into a new heaven and new earth wherein no corruption will dwell. This is why it is imperative for the individual to see betrayal for what it is and ensure that it never darkens his or her life. For betrayal is ultimately the betrayal of the Power and Light which created this cosmos and its inhabitants. The gift of life is a test to show whether we are followers of that Light and agents of honour, or slaves of darkness and perpetrators of betrayal (ultimately, the betrayal of our Creator).
If I were a teacher setting an essay on this subject for a class, I would say, “Look around you and note all the examples of betrayal in your society (virtual or actual), among your alleged friends, in your community, and even in your family, even by yourself. Compare the world of betrayal in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ with your own world and mark well the burgeoning similarities. What feelings does that evoke in you and, above all, what will you do about it? [Hint: begin with yourself]”.
[The illustration accompanying this article is “Betrayal”, a lino print by Lynette Swanepoel, available here: https://www.artpeoplegallery.com/lynette-swanepoel-artworks/lino-betrayed/ ]
Text Copyright © Alan Morrison, 2021
[The copyright on my works is only to protect them from plagiarism, and non-permitted changes. Readers are free to reproduce my work, so long as it is in the same format and with the exact same content and its origin is acknowledged]