A play in one act.
Chairperson: Our object is to have good salaries and pensions, we are all agreed on that. That goes without saying.
Person One: Are you a man or a woman?
Chairperson: I refuse to be gender specific.
Person One: You are wearing women’s clothes.
Chairperson: That proves nothing.
Person One: Would you be willing to stand naked before us?
Chairperson: Have you heard of gender reassignment surgery? One person had it done twice.
Person One: Anyone can change their mind.
Chairperson: Their mind wasn’t at issue. Now, are their any questions?
Person Two: May I address the chair?
Chairperson: Do you talk to furniture?
Person Two: I just wanted to know, why are we here?
Chairperson: A profound question.
Person Two: I mean, in the immediate circumstances. Here and now.
Chairperson: I’m glad you asked. Now to justify my and all our existences.
Person One: Will this take long?
Chairperson: You have sex on your mind. Read Freud. Bedtime reading. As to your question, it wouldn’t look good if we made our mind up in a minute. It has to look as if we considered the matter at length and in full and with all due consideration. We can put out a statement to that effect.
Person Three: I suggest we do nothing and tell them to come back next week.
Chairperson: A good idea. You are a good committee man.
Person Two: What are ethics anyway?
Chairperson: They’re about right and wrong and good and bad and true and false and all that sort of thing. You have to look like you care about those things. That’s why this committee was set up.
Person Two: Why do you have to look like you care about right and wrong?
Chairperson: Otherwise people would say you were a crook. You can’t have that. Its called retaining the moral high ground. That’s why people have ethics departments.
Person Two: Couldn’t they use PR?
Chairperson: That’s more or less the same thing, but people don’t trust them. They think they’re spin doctors. Spin doctors have a bad name.
Person One: Isn’t that what we are?
Chairperson: Its easy to be cynical. I am. There’s more than a grain of truth in cynicism, when you see what goes on all around you. Including right here. We’re all in it for the money.
Person One: I get it. We have to pretend we’re not.
Chairperson: That’s right. Look at politics. The best pretenders win.
Person Two: How do they win?
Chairperson: By appealing to self interest. Self interest rules the day, always has and always will. I speak as a true cynic.
Person One: A cynic doesn’t believe in anything. What are those things you don’t believe in?
Chairperson: All those things ethics represents. Are you thick or what?
Person One: Let’s not get personal. I have a good opinion of myself. I care more about myself than anything else.
Chairperson: You are one of us. It’s better not to get too close to the truth. Then we’d all be out of a job. In truth an ethics committee is window dressing, everyone knows right and wrong. Our job is to dress up lies in fancy words. In war its called propaganda. Lies dressed as truth. Everybody does it. Everyone I know, anyway.
Person Four: Why do you only know people like that?
Chairperson: I wouldn’t talk to anyone else. They wouldn’t talk to me, either.
Person Four: So there are people who believe in ethics.
Chairperson: They don’t get on. They get shot.
Person Two: By who?
Chairperson: People like us.
Person Four: I resign.
Chairperson: See what I mean? Bang goes your pension.
Person Four: I put first things first.
Chairperson: I put me first. Are we all agreed on that?
Person Four: Except me. I beg to differ.
Chairperson: A beggar you will be. Crumbs from the rich man’s table are all you have to look forward to. Honesty doesn’t pay.
Person Four: But you can sleep easy. Have you no self respect?
Chairperson: No. I can’t afford it.
Person One: Can we call this meeting to a conclusion? We talked long enough.
Chairperson: We’ll meet in a week’s time. We’ll write a report full of big words and meaningless waffle, just like all the others. To lie on the shelf like the rest.
Person Four: I won’t be there.
Chairperson: You can sleep on the street for all I care.
Person Four: I will be in good company.
The meeting concludes with a bang of a gavel. Shuffling of papers.
16th April, 2016