Thursday, June 25, 2009

Weighing in on Mark Sanford

In light of the disclosure of Governor Mark Sanford's personal e-mails and a press conference in which he asked for forgiveness from his family and constituents, I am compelled to write about the falsehood that a married and religious person makes a good politician.

For starters, and in the interest of full disclosure, save for men before the Clinton scandal, I always feel a sense of sympathy for men of authority who have fallen to temptations of the flesh in this day and age.  It is the mythical and tragic fall from grace that both astonishes and saddens me.  The hero, or for our purposes, the politician, has it all and yet seems to do the most unimaginable thing.  What's worse, his sins are paraded for the entire world to see and condemned on the late night news cycle; his accomplishments forever overshadowed by a scandal that, we are lead to believe, is of epic proportions.

I wonder a great deal aloud and in the company of good friends about the institution of marriage.  Though I firmly believe that there is no better arrangement that facilitates the effective rearing of a child and structuring of society, I find marriage to be a terrible standard by which to measure an individual.  And that's what in fact it has become.  Perhaps I am still too youthful to fully comprehend it, but I believe it to be a social game of sorts.  God forbid you find yourself not playing, i.e. unmarried, the implication is that there is something wrong with you.

The same is the case for religion.  "Saturday sinners at the feet of the father" Sunday morning give us a sense of comfort and trust that is, ultimately, unwarranted.

In the end it is the impossible expectations that we assign to individuals, and that those individuals in turn assume and fail to fulfill, that makes this fall from grace so utterly sad. Cynicism abounds and we become skeptical of the trustworthiness of men or politicians when we really should really be looking at whether our expectations were based on faulty standards of ethics and morality from the get.  Indeed, when all is said and done, the truth is that we may have, in fact, duped ourselves.

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