I believe this hits at what’s wrong not only with our political system, but in society in general. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t forgive. We certainly should, and all people deserve a chance to start over and get it right next time. The problem is that we typically forsake discernment in the name of forgiveness. We don’t want to worry about it anymore, so we skip the “demonstrating reformed character” part of the process in the interest of calling it done.
I read How to Forgive ... When You Don't Feel Like It by June Hunt several years ago, and I was looking back over it for another project recently. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it to everybody, because Hunt clarifies so much about what forgiveness is and isn’t in this book. Best of all, it’s not a long read. One of the things she cautions is to not allow “I’m sorry” to become what I call a “get out of jail free” card. She urges you to remember that forgiveness is something to release you from anger, but it does not absolve you from using wisdom in discerning character and determining the parameters of future relationships – or if resuming the relationship is even wise to do at all (which, in some cases, it isn’t). She states that forgiveness is only one step of a process, and that trust must be rebuilt if a relationship is to be resumed. Specifically, Hunt urges that we look for “observable, consistent behavior to substantiate trust” before we even consider granting privileges after a breech of trust. I think this is perfectly reasonable, and fair. Sure, we all backslide from time to time, but people who are sincere will be quick to repent and get back on track. You’ll see in time who means “I’m sorry” and who uses it as a “get out of jail free” card. And sadly, there are people that do that. Apologies are nothing but tools to them. I know 1 or 2 people who backslide so frequently and regularly that I can set my watch by their crying/whining fits (and you know that's made it's way into my books - I'd be lying if I didn't say it inspired more than one of my antagonists). “Oops, I did it again” is more than a Brittney Spears song to some people. It’s a way of life. And here’s where we really need to be careful and make sure the radar is on and our senses are sharpened in dealing with anger, forgiveness, and moving forward.
I know a lot of people are grumbling “well, you don’t trust anybody, do you Little Miss Sunshine?” No, it doesn’t mean that. Actually, there’s a very simple test to see whether you need to put somebody on your radar or not: Look at how they treat those closest to them. They aren’t going to treat you any better than they treat their spouse and/or children, so watch how they treat them and you’ll have a good idea of their regard for people in general. They aren't going to treat anybody better than those closest to them, so if they have blatant disregard for their inner circle then you're asking to build up a lovely knife collection from the ones they will stick in your back the minute it's turned. Obviously, Weiner has little regard for his wife to have done this again. And if he cares that little for her, do you really think he cares for the people of New York City? I have my doubts. Voters would be a fool to believe that that Weiner has anything other than salvaging his political career in mind in this campaign. Let’s hope they remember that on election day. But you never know. Mark Sanford won back his congressional seat last spring, after leaving the Governor’s office in disgrace a few years back. Of course, his wife left him, and other than disputes with her, there have been no further indiscressions (that we know of, anyway). It could be that he’s ready for public office again. Time will tell. Thankfully, Sanford wasn’t running in my district, so I didn’t have to go to the polls and make this determination myself.
Sure, we all make mistakes. That’s part of being human. We just have to be mindful of learning our lessons and getting back on the right path when all is said and done. And when it comes to trust, we must remember that rebuilding it always takes longer than building it – and the more it’s fractured, the longer it takes to do that.
Let’s pray the lessons sink in nice and deep, and that we don’t make the same mistakes twice.
That’s all today.