The man said, “If I had that much power, the kind that would let me grab any woman I chose and still be President, power without consequences, I too would grab her and her and her. Because that is my true human nature and fear of consequences is all that stops me.”
Son, I’m still trying to decide whether I’m glad you heard him say that. You’ve always respected him, and while there may be something to admire in his brutal honesty, I hope you will never decide that his truth is your truth, that his weakness will be your weakness. I hope you see that he is wrong about no consequences in the here and now.
Words crowded my mouth, desperate to counterbalance his words. I think you already know though, don’t you? I think you understand the consequences of your moral conscience, living with knowing that you abused or preyed on another.
Son, you are white and you are male. That makes you privileged in ways that may be hard to completely grasp since you have never lived outside your whiteness or maleness. But if you were born privileged, you were also born to a responsiblity — to use what you have to protect those who don’t have. The harsh truth is that the greatest danger to those around you will sometimes be YOU — protecting others from your own ego, your own desires, your own selfishness may be the only and most important protection you can offer.
This is true for all humanity, of course, but it is truer for you. Because of your privilege, a privilege that makes it so easy to blindly trod on others without meaning to.
I think you already know these things, but anxiety gnawed —- What if you know now, but lose your way later on? As years go by, what if other people you admire share their own warped versions of the truth (and they will) and cause you to doubt yourself? What if I’m wrong, and you don’t have the wisdom I think you do? What if you wrongly interpret his words? Can I change things, make you wiser, strengthen you?
Son, I didn’t know where to even begin this conversation and worried that I was going to miss the chance to do it “right.” Then I remembered what I do know — the heart of you and that “one who is faithful in a little is also faithful in much . . .”
I remembered your kindness to your younger sisters, when you immediately apologize for a brusque word, when you make yourself answer kindly a demand made in a less-than-kind tone, when you sacrifice your time to help with her project. In your daily interactions with those two younger siblings, you continually humble yourself, wield your power of the older brother for their good.
I see you practicing acts of love and mercy now, even when you don’t feel like it, as surely as you practice pulling your bow across cello strings. Right now, daily you are practicing to be a better husband, a better father, a better man, a Protector and an Encourager. Every time you wield your power of choice by laying it down in favor of another, you gain power over the Worst that is inside you with the Good that is also inside you. True Strength is not wielded against another. It is laid down for another again and again.
You have experience in this my dear Son. I have witnessed your faithfulness in a little leading to faithfulness in much.
Still, the anxiety caused by the man’s words made me want to grab you by the shoulders, spear you with my eye and say “One day, you may be in a position of power, the kind where you can make a wrong choice without suffering consequences. And it will be your choice — to do right or to do wrong. Don’t blame your human nature overpowering you or some kind of Satan tricking you. It will be all you, making your choice.”
But I didn’t do that. I sensed it was not the right way with you. Struggling, I let trust in you guide me. I chose to simply ask and hear you speak.
“Son, what did you think about ———– words? Do you think it is true that only legal and social consequences chain you to right choices?”
“Well,” you said, “I think his view assumes that I, myself, am okay with the wrong choices.”
I exhaled, anxiety dissolved. humbleness moved in. You did not need me to show you the way. All I needed to do? — Be still, know, and LISTEN, trusting that which is Good in you.