28 July 2013

danger within

I suppose I should begin by saying that the idea of photographing my genital area has never occurred to me.  Nor has the idea of transmitting such a photograph ever occurred to me.  So, in that respect, it is difficult for me to relate to Anthony Weiner, a.k.a. “Carlos Danger.”  Of course, he is not the only person, let alone politician, to be publicly humiliated.

And it is in that respect that I can relate to him.  Who among us has never done anything that they deeply regret?  And it’s only by the grace of God that we haven’t been exposed in a way that is meant to hurt, not to heal.

In her book, The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages, Joan Chittister includes commentary along with the chapters of the Rule.  In Benedict’s chapter on humility, Chittister adds these thoughts:

“Benedict wants us to realize that accepting our essential smallness and embracing it frees us from the need to lie, even to ourselves, about our frailties.  More than that, it liberates us to respect, revere, and deal gently with others who have been unfortunate enough to have their own smallnesses come obscenely to light.”

I’m not saying that people should not be held accountable for their actions.  Sometimes we do “endanger” others in ways that are not just or fair.  Still, there is a clear difference between good-natured humor and mockery, which attempts to build ourselves up at the expense of those who have been caught.  Chittister continues:

“Aware of our own meager virtues, conscious of our own massive failures despite all our great efforts, all our fine desires, we have in this degree of humility, this acceptance of ourselves, the chance to understand the failures of others.  We have here the opportunity to become kind.” (70)

When we realize that we are in danger of slipping as long as we still draw breath, we can afford to “deal gently” and to seize “the opportunity to become kind.”

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