Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Moral Convenience

The reactions to Congressman Mark Foley’s sexual misconduct scare me more than the actions of Foley.

Emails from the progressive organizations I subscribe to are filled with calls to remove the Republican speaker of the house and demonize the Republican party. As much as anyone else I want a progressive shift at this November’s election. Yet when I see the Republican and the Democratic reactions to Mark Foley’s transgressions, I fear we’re all missing the boat, grabbing at the moral convenience of both cover-ups and exposes. Is it all in the name of who controls the rudder after November?

Progressives had a recent president who covered up sexual activity. That debacle consumed huge resources from our national leadership over the same maneuvering for power. In times like these I believe we can use our energy better if we shut off the TV and open our copies of Desmond Tutu’s NO FUTURE WITHOUT FORGIVENESS.

Charged with heading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the end of Apartheid in South Africa, Tutu’s understanding was so great that he realized:

“No matter how terrible the crime of the person appearing for the commission, I had to remember that inside of me I possessed the same capacities, and I had to realize that under different circumstances our roles might be reversed.” (paraphrased as best I can remember)

It would have been so understandable for the man who had been tortured and who had watched so many family members killed, and who had presided at so many funerals caused by apartheid…it would have been understandable for a man like this to want vengeance and to secure power. Instead of moral convenience he went to the moral bedrock of humanity and spoke the words of truth, that we are all one, the best and the worst of us. At times I’d prefer not to hear this truth.

If we shut off the TV and took a long walk, our time might be better used

…to walk the streets and see the people and know that in the crowd we see, tragically many have been raped or abused, men too, but especially women. Foley’s abuse is one piece of the multi-generational damage that flows as an undercurrent in our families and communities and our whole nation.

…to walk the streets and see the people and know that in the crowd we see are stories of disaster and heroism, good deeds and bad, that would take days to hear from any single person that we stopped to really get to know.

…to walk the streets and know that some in this crowd have lost loved ones in war, and some who are now in war will come home and never again have a full night’s sleep or walk their streets with interior peace.

…to know that we are a walking wounded nation and world where we need so much more than moral convenience.

We need to know that at our core we are all dependent on one another, abuser and abused alike, powerful and powerless alike, enemy and friend alike. Oh, how I’d prefer not to hear this truth.

I grieve that many will now use Mark Foley’s story to hurl charges and judgments of pedophilia against gay men. Many will use moral convenience and forget or ignore that sexual abuse is not the equal right that LGBT people strive for (or that heterosexual people strive for either.)

When I go on that walk this afternoon I plan to rededicate myself to love, to recognizing it in others, to naming it, celebrating it, advocating for that love and the rights and responsibilities that create a society which nurtures love. I plan to name the names of the multitude of people I know who teach me what that love is about: single people, men who love men, women who love women, men who love women, women who love men, men who carry the feminine inside, women who carry the masculine inside, those who carry both. I mean to count my blessings and to recall what makes for a blessed life.

Blessings to you,



George Winters said...

Hi Lars,
I wish more of the news efforts would append to a comment like yours, a very good statement about setting priorties and perspective. Unfortunately it seems to be a political expediency to let topics like Mr. Foley's problem work as diversions from other large problems about which the government leadership is not having much success. And in that diversion process, human rights, humane cooperation, and compassion for neighbors is being subverted by compulsions of fear and ignorance. Thanks for setting a more understanding tone on this headline topic.

OCPatriot said...

This is the leadership of the Republican Party being accused of a coverup, not the rank and file. If they hid this in the name of keeping a person elected, someone who took advantage of his position in the workplace as a superior to the younger people who worked there, and denied knowing about it when if fact they did, they need to be removed. It has nothing to do with whether this was a Democrat or a Republican; in this face the hypocracy of the people involved, who wrote harsh laws, makes it all the more reprehensible.

If you don't think that "Power corrupts. Absolutely power corrupts absolutely," look at the Foley-Hastert scandal. These were not rank and file, these were the Republican Party Leadership. For those who want to vote Republican, sure the Democrats are spineless and whimpy. Right now the Democrats are the only force that will balance off the Republican's march to a totalitarian state; they may become corrupt but it'll take some time for that to happen.

It is idealistic to think that people exist in a vacuum. Of course some Democrats and Progressives are out for blood because of what the Republicans did to Clinton; but that has little to do with the breach of trust that harassment of young people who work for Congressmen seemed to have existed. If it were women who were similarly harassed, would you feel the same?

Anonymous said...

I am a mother, a grandmother, an educator, and gay. Mr. Foley used his position of power to abuse minors. It does not matter whether they were male or female, his actions are reprehensible. Those in power who chose to cover up this abuse are also reprehensible. We must protect our children. Mr. Foley must go through the same judicial system as any other adult involved in sexual harrassment or abuse.
Teachers often loose teaching credentials when participating in the same activities as Mr. Foley.
Mr. Hastert needs to be investigated also. The decisions of our country lie with these individuals. If they will not even try to keep our children safe, how can we ever expect them to make decisions for the rest of us?

DawnL said...

Greetings from Leo Foley's home state of Minnesota. We are disheartened, and not just because Foley is Republican. Whatever his politics, he acted inappropriately and abused his power for personal gratification. Not someone we want to represent the morality of Minnesotans.

However, for those Floridians who might just come across this blog somehow, I offer this media correction: Mr. Foley is a Republican, not a Democrat. But this isn't about politics... at least not for those who look across party lines for signs of hope for this country. Thank you.