I found it almost amusing to hear someone say recently that they were “shocked” by the revelation that CIA Director David Petraeus had an affair. Seriously? Have they been living under a rock? Haven’t we “been there, heard that” at least a dozen times before? Haven’t we been previously dismayed, disappointed, and disillusioned by business leaders, presidents, politicians, preachers, movie stars, and sports idols- all of whom have done the same thing? I would probably be more shocked by a list of those in Washington who have NOT had an affair. It seems to my memory that the most important roles in government have quite often been held by men of questionable personal judgment.
What I find interesting are the comments about what a great job Mr. Petraeus has done as the CIA Director. I’m not sure why we should be surprised by that. The man can obviously keep secrets! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.) Why do we assume that liars, cheaters, gamblers, drug addicts, and alcoholics can’t do their jobs? The fact that we parade President Clinton around like the role model of the western world and continue to applaud the skills of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong would prove otherwise. We have demonstrated in the past that we are willing to overlook the personal sins of most of our leaders if they are doing a good job and are repentant. If we like them or they are doing something that directly affects us we’ll even pray for them. So let’s not be hypocrites about the whole thing.
Please don’t infer that I condone this behavior- by our leaders or anyone else. What occurred to me yesterday, on a deeply personal level, is that perhaps we spend far too much time teaching our children “college and career” skills while neglecting the moral and character skills that will allow them to KEEP their prominent positions and fancy titles. We push them to succeed, but don’t equip them with the values to manage that success. Sex is not the only temptation they will face. Strong personal principles are needed at every turn in their journey through life.
I have several kindergarten students, five-year-olds, who have already cheated on their work and lied to me this year. It is a natural self-protective instinct at this age, but it is also my responsibility to convey to them that it is NOT acceptable behavior in our society. I hope I am successful, but if they watch very many of the other adults around them they may ignore me.