I remember back in the 90's, Bill Clinton behaved badly. He did so as a married man, in the Whitehouse, with an intern. If that is not exploiting power, I don't know what is. He lied about it, and people said it didn't affect his ability to run the country. I begged to differ.
Roy Moore was defeated in Alabama and today; another political leader announced he wouldn't re-run for office. This announcement was on the heels of an apparent suicide of a Kentucky lawmaker who was accused of molestation. No one is exempt; Democrats and Republicans, those in power, celebrities, those we like and don't like, it goes on and on. The New York Times has a list; it has become so pervasive.
It matters in every area of our lives. It matters in public AND private life.
If there are two of you, the one you let people believe you are, and the one you really are, it will eventually be found out. Living a divided life leads to failure. Jesus pointed this out, and Abe Lincoln quoted him, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
Character matters. D.L. Moody said, "Character is what you do in the dark." Meaning, it is who you are when you are alone or in private that shows what you are really like.
Some are rejoicing at the downfalls. They see it as a vindication of their cause. "I told you that guy was a scum!" "I never liked...(fill in the blank)." "They deserve what they are getting." That may very well be true, but it is just a laminate. If you peel back the layer of filth, you will see it is only the surface. It is the tip of the iceberg. If we go a bit below the surface, we find something incredibly troubling. We treat one another as objects.
We create dynamics where people are things, commodities, and objects for use at our disposal. Think you are immune? When is the last time you called someone a name in your mind or with your mouth? When is the last time you talked to a friend, family member or co-worker about someone in a derogatory fashion? How many people have you labeled and put in a box because they are different from you? Let's see; there are the Trumpers, the Libtards, idiots, morons, gays, Christians, Muslims, you can use any label you want to make people the Other.
This plays a critical roll in our society, and people don't talk about objectification enough. We rightly talk about bullying victims and the plight of immigrants and the need to protect them, but we rarely talk about a critical area. Sex. Sex is used to sell nearly everything, and it is everywhere. We love our favorite TV shows, Netflix series or movies that objectify, especially women. We are a hyper-sexualized culture. In this context, both men, but particularly women, are objectified. Social media fosters images of women that are entirely unrealistic - Talk about fake news! It goes on and on.
We have a culture of sex and objectification. These accusations (innocent until proven guilty still applies) are a beginning. The #MeToo movement is critical for women to have a voice. The downfall of many who perpetuate the environments is vital to creating safety from groping and other unwanted behavior for everyone. When the most powerful (I am looking at you Mr. President) are complicit in groping or objectifying women, we must hold them accountable. But if we do that for others, we have to do it for ourselves.
Character matters -and Character matters in you.
Just because others are being publically outed, doesn't mean we aren't as bad. To be honest, I struggle with this a lot. I get angry with people, call them names, put them in boxes, allow my thoughts to linger on things I shouldn't. I am part of the problem. I am committed to being better.
How do you keep yourself from making people objects? How do you keep yourself from thinking about someone as an object, a problem, or someone you would never be like? What kind of character do you display in the dark? The truth is, you may be like 'them' in ways you are uncomfortable with.
This dynamic is part of what Jesus was getting at in John 8.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The woman wasn't the problem, her behavior was. Jesus called her to account and everyone knew they had sinned.
Our culture is the iceberg. We have created it. We can learn to do things differently but it starts with us, one thought at a time. Every time we keep ourselves from objectifying someone, either in public or private, we help melt the iceberg.
I believe we can do better and for the sake everyone we must.