Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Moral Cowardice

Like Tom Junod, I was somewhere toward the bottom of the pecking order, but discovering someone a bit further down, I vented my frustration, rage, and need to make another feel the way I had. As with so much else in my life, it is something that weighs on my heart every single day. Not least because, in the grand scheme of things, I realize I was not so much "bullied" as I was teased because I was different. Flaming red, curly hair, on top of soft features we usually associate more with a feminine physiognomy than masculine, it was a combination of curiosity and the kind of humor at the expense of another that does, indeed, hurt, but is not, alas for me, "bullying".

That I had my feelings hurt was more the result of me being a far-too oversensitive child. I watch my daughter and I see the same thing; being far too willing to wear my heart out on my sleeve, I had to learn the hard way that friends sometimes use humor at one another's expense. Not one understanding nuance, on a couple occasions I remember far too vividly, I took that bottled up rage (quite a bit of which was directed inward) and opened it up on another boy. The memory is full of bile for me, a disgusting reminder of what we can do to others. The one thing for which I am thankful is that sense of responsibility and self-loathing over my actions was almost immediate; understanding what I had done was cruel and wrong, while I didn't pursue the poor boy for forgiveness, I did make it a point never, under any circumstance, to act in such a way again.

I have no idea what Mitt Romney thinks about the alleged incident in question. I also don't care. I am far more interested in the fact that, yet again, we have a national representative of a political party that demands personal responsibility from everyone except themselves. Not just Romney's claims that he doesn't remember, or that the incident in question was just a "prank"; much the rest of the political and chattering classes are insisting that the entire matter be dropped as both long ago and far away.

How hard would it have been for Romney to say, "I do remember that. It bothers me. I was never strong enough or adult enough to admit it, let alone seek forgiveness, but it does haunt me." Or words to that effect. Why is it people faced with losing their homes due to economic circumstances far beyond their control are told to suck it up and deal, while an individual confronted with an incident from his past that paints him in a less than gleaming spotlight cannot find the moral courage to accept responsibility for his actions? And people wonder why I hold the whole conservative movement in so much contempt. 

Personal responsibility begins with one's own life, not turning around and telling the rest of the world how horrible they are. That's little more than running away from the horror that the real villain in one's life may well be . . . one's very own self.

Virtual Tin Cup

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