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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Actions - How We Hurt Each Other

The past couple of days has found the media in a frenzy over the behavior of Retired Army General David Patreus, former head of the CIA.  Turning in his resignation shortly after his boss was reelected to the Presidency,  the unfolding scandal seems to be snagging everyone from FBI agents, the proposed head of NATO and a Florida woman described as a 'socialite' (code word for Rich Person with Nothing to Do).  Seemingly lost in the maze of accusations, counter accusations, late night TV talk show hosts' bad jokes and SNL sketches are the victims - a wife of 30 years, three children and countless military families who now wonder if their soldiers, sailors, marines and air force people were put in danger because a bunch of Alpha Males can't keep their pants zipped.

Can you guess I am a little big angry?

Well, I am.  I am angry at these idiot men who seem to be incapable of behaving with honor.  I am angry at these idiot women who seem to think going after a married man is OK because denying their feelings would somehow cause them discomfort and that is to be avoided at ALL COSTS.  I am angry at the wife who has put up with this all these years (don't tell me this is the first time this jerk has behaved in this way) and I am angry at any of the people in their inner or outer circles that covered up, facilitated or otherwise okay'd this type of juvenile, selfish and self-centered behavior.

I am also angry at those people who meet this type of news with an indictment of those of us who object to it:  We are naive, we are puritanical, we are judgemental.  We are not realistic.  Who cares?  This is their PERSONAL business and does not affect their jobs.

My answer?  The heck with you.

I believe the biggest problem we have as human beings is our inability to be tough on ourselves and on our society.  We give up opportunities to hold ourselves to the type of behavior that promotes the common good because we are afraid someone will call us names like "Exclusive" or "Judgemental".  We excuse the foibles of presidents, kings, queens and generals for such reasons as they have always behaved like this, what are you gonna do about it, men are men.....etc etc etc.  We react this way rather than standing up and saying, "How DARE you behave like a chimpanzee in heat?  How DARE you break your vows, dishonor your family and your country?  How DARE you COMMIT A SIN!"

Now, I am not saying we need to stone these men and women for adultery.  I am holding tight to the fact that we are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values (as old fashioned and out of date as that notion sounds today) and we should not make people paint a big red A on their foreheads (we are NOT Puritans - we are CHRISTIANS..there is a difference) or behead them for sleeping around (we are not the Taliban).  Rather, we need to acknowledge that what these goons do is wrong - morally wrong - and hold them accountable.  They may need to lose their jobs.  They may need to lose face.  They will need to repent and atone.  I don't mean a public repentance (though there is a part of me that is so angry about the possible danger these two maroons may have put our men in by making themselves vulnerable to blackmail that I wouldn't mind them being dressed in sack cloth, covered in ashes for awhile and then they forced to kneel in the snow outside St Peter's for three weeks waiting for absolution...not that I am vindictive or anything...oh no..not me) but a public apology might be a good idea.  I would also like to see Mrs. General stand next to her husband and when he is done apologizing she can wind up and smack him right in the head.  I would like to see the Biographer and the Socialite forced to wear sweatpants and work at WalMart for Black Friday (which, by the way, is now going to be on THANKSGIVING...don't get me started on THAT).  In fact, I would like to see them have to work at WalMart for the entire Christmas Season and to have to do so without make up and hair extensions.

That would teach 'em.

In all seriousness, what these people (men and women) have done is behaved without honor.  In my book, when I discover someone is a dishonorable person their credibility suffers.  I have to force myself to listen to them rather than simply discounting out of hand any information or opinion they may have about anything.  I regard them with a less than charitable view and that is wrong on my part. 

This causes me to reflect on how we, us humans, do not function in a vacuum.  We affect each other.  Our behavior matters.  We are all creatures of a loving and merciful God and we are supposed to look at each other as family.  When one member of the family behaves like a jerk, throws a tantrum, cheats on their wife or hurts their children it affects the entire family.  When one member of the family is sick, hurts, cries or loses something precious to them it hurts the entire family.  When one member of the family rejoices, achieves, celebrates or laughs out loud for no real reason that affects the family as well.

God created us this way for a reason and we need to accept His Will.  We need to stop taking actions that harm both ourselves and society.  We need to start thinking, once again, in terms of the common GOOD and not the common EXPEDIENT.  We need to stop thinking that what we do doesn't matter because it does - we are each important in the Eyes of God and without that essential element of authentic self-esteem we become greedy, grabby babies wanting only that which makes us feel good.

Enough is enough.

It is time to GROW UP.


Robert said...


The “No Big Deal” sentiment is what stands out for me also. As far as the Alpha Male stuff goes, I think it is a consequence of the job. I am not saying the job is responsible, but it is a kind of filter that is selecting the person according to its selection criteria. Typically they are very smart, possess large egos, and are effective. People can howl all they want about the “old boy’s club,” but I suspect that if gender roles were inverted, it would be called an “old girl’s club.” Our soldiers, going back beyond Marcus Aurelius, have had problems of this kind. The difference now I believe is the prevalence of email, text messaging, and the idea that everyone gets a stump to speak from. Now we get to hear from both the Petraeus’ and the Kardashian’s, which is unique in our history. Oh, and people get to hear from me as well, thanks to the power of the internet; it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have anything thing to say, however.

The real issue, IMHO, is the way we seem to compartmentalize different societal phenomena. The past Presidential elections come to mind. Remember Carville’s “The Economy, Stupid?” Bush was hammered because of the perception that he was not paying attention the economy. The economy, the military and foreign policy are these neat little separate piles sitting on your desk, with each having an “In” and an “Out” box. This perception is how a great many of my libertarian friends and family sees the world. Fundamental issues have little or no coupling between them, and we must treat them as independent issues, according to priorities that are developed as a consequence of the boundaries they establish. Do I have separate decision making parts of my brain, a different “right” or “wrong” look up table for every issue I am faced with? I don’t believe so; our brains don’t function like that. The idea that I can weigh separate issues independently makes moral relativism possible. All I need to do is adjust the weighting I assign to decisions to get what outcome I want. This compartmentalization is nothing more than a device to obtain a free pass to do whatever I want to do.

As far as being judgmental goes, we judge every second of our lives. Is it safe to cross the street? Is this person safe to be around? Do I “Like” something on Facebook (the best example of the trivialization of the word “friend’ I can think of). This anti-judgementalism tear society is on presuppose that we are all equal. I don’t believe we are all equal, not for one second. I know a guy who can do fourth order partial differential equations in his head, and another that writes music, and another who was ordained a priest. Am I equal with them? The whole world runs on differences, differences in potential for chemistry and electronics, differences in temperature in the heat engines we use for power. I once asked an instructor how they could use the words “diversity” and “equality” as the same object in a sentence in an “Ethics and Diversity” class. We are forgetting that words have meanings and consequences.


Leslie Klinger said...

I agree with your assessment of the sudden fear in our culture of being deemed 'judgemental'. I do not know why we confuse the idea of forming a judgement with being mean, discriminatory or exclusive. Instead, we have degenerated into a world that does not uphold standards of morality for fear of not being liked by the very people who do not live up to the standards and morality that to which we adhere. We are cowards.

Robert said...

I think it is because people want to have a "pass" to do what they want. If I don't give them that "pass," then they believe I am not treating them "fairly" or I am "discriminating" against them or I am "disrespecting" them. After a while it looks like a society full of people having seizures due to all the nodding and winking going on. I don’t look at your “stuff” and you don’t look at my “stuff;” the status quo is maintained. If I do not have the integrity and courage to be honest with myself and others, then yes, I am a coward.