I’m thinking about all the millions of people out there, mostly men, who are stewing in their own soup right now wondering if or when they will be found out. From those in jobs we might say are in sensitive areas, such as the White House, Congress and the Pentagon, to church pastors and mini-celebrities like Josh Duggar, each one probably has a bit more excitement than he signed up for.
But then there is the long line of nobodies out there who are, well, probably married and living life more-or-less anonymously in their rather small, monotonous worlds. In this context, these folks were looking for a little action to spice up their hum-drum lives. Well, helloooooo spiced-up life!
I’m betting they now have more juice in their lives than they ever really imagined. Now they probably wish they could have that boring, mundane life back.
I suspect that many of the nobodies in this drama might just be able to keep their little indiscretion, their little hypocrisy, a secret. I’m guessing that most of the time unsuspecting spouses out there aren’t looking for anything, and certainly aren’t drilling into the deep or dark web, wherever that’s located. (I suspect it’s somewhere in northeast Oklahoma, but I can’t prove that.)
The Josh Duggars of the world will have their hypocrisies aired and judged repeatedly in the media. It seems clear that the young man has some ongoing personal demons to deal with that will not be easy to dismiss. It’s hard to admit such issues when you’re constantly lifted up as a model citizen among your community of like-mindeds. Either way, he’s having his moment of truth – his day of humiliation. There will be plenty of pain to go around on this one.
That will likely be true for the many nobodies involved in the Ashley Madison breach as well, probably with a much smaller ripple effect. Individual marriages will be strained, even broken – households ruined. Most of these will not take place in front of TV cameras or on Huffington Post webpages.
What is sobering to me in this most recent “unveiling” is how common it is. We get caught up in our little webs of deception, including self-deception, and we somehow cannot see that it is a bad story we’re involved in and that it all could go REALLY bad in a moment. Yet, we somehow think we’re more clever than those other people, we’ve taken better precautions, or whatever our delusion.
“I used a prepaid credit card; am I clever or what.” “I used my work email, not my personal one; see, I’m not an idiot.” On and on. It-can’t-happen-to-me syndrome. That’s the first step in this recurring story.
Next, when it does happen, we go into cover-up mode. Doing everything we can to keep the deed under wraps, including creating more lies in the process. Then if confronted, even with our pants down, we ramp up the rationalization campaign.
Hand it to Duggar, he just admitted it. That’s rare. Skip the dance – come clean. Reset.
I think most of us know of things about ourselves we need to confront but won’t, secrets we keep carefully hidden, hypocrisies maintained that keep us from being genuine and living with integrity – most small perhaps, some not-so-small. Some of them are personally embarrassing, others are more than embarrassing, hurting not only ourselves but others.
I’d like to think that I’m living life with more integrity than I ever have. Perhaps it has something to do with getting older and more established – or, perhaps I care less what others think. I’m less motivated to play the game. I’ve had my share of public humiliations.
I’ve been fortunate enough to confront whatever private demons I’ve seen emerging in my life at various stages. It didn’t take a public “outing” to cause me to keep a check on my appetites, thankfully. Call it luck, or grace.
Today it’s Josh Duggar and Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesman. Yesterday it was NBC network anchor Brian Williams and Tiger Woods. Who could forget Lance Armstrong or Monica Lewinsky?
I cringe when I read the harsh words and judgments made by many in the media of the Duggars or Fogles of the day. Casting stones is a nasty business.
Fundamentally, I fear I am more like the Duggars or Fogles of the world than I wish were the case – less public but susceptible nonetheless.
Be afraid, my soul. Be very afraid.