In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
We shall have turned towards all the [supposed good] deeds they ever wrought and shall have transformed them into scattered dust. (Qur'an 25:23)
And so it went: a promising political career, a loving marriage, a strong family life, completely destroyed over a cheap (yet quite expensive) thrill that was caught on tape. NY Governor Eliot Spitzer, soon to be former Governor, has resigned his office in the midst of a scandal involving his alleged involvement in a high-brow prostitution ring. In watching Mr. Spitzer announce his resignation, you can see the embarrassment and anguish in his face, and the pain and humiliation in that of his wife. When the allegations first surfaced, Governor Sptizer said: "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my, or any, sense of right and wrong. I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better."
In announcing his resignation, he said, "In the past few days I've begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, my children and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me…Over the course of my public life I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason I am resigning from the office of governor…"
Yet, really, was his remorse over his infidelity (with a prostitute probably near the age of his daughters)? Or was it over being caught? We may never know. In fact, it very well may be true that prior to the allegations coming out, he was truly sorry for what he did, and he began to atone for his "private failings." Yet, his romantic encounters were not just once: it happened over an 8 month time period, at a cost of $80,000.
Is this the action of someone who truly feels remorse for his actions?
Truly, with the Precious Beloved as my witness, I am not trying to kick Mr. Spitzer while he is down. Yet, I refuse to simply explain it away as "so many other men do it." I refuse to succumb to the mantra: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." It truly shocks and disturbs me to see such a non-chalant reaction to his infidelity. Is it because many men themselves live in glass houses? I was listening to Jason Itzler, who used to run a high-priced escort service called New York Confidential, talk to Anderson Cooper on CNN on March 12, and he said something that astonished me: "Ninety-nine percent of [the clients] are married."
Ninety-nine percent of his clients were married. Ninety-nine percent!
No matter what century we are in, this is an absolutely astonishing figure, and it is always wrong. It is never "okay" to cheat on your wife or husband. It is never "no big deal" to be unfaithful. It is never simply a "private failing." It is a public failing as well.
In whatever we do, our entire person participates in the action, not just our "private person." Indeed, we may do things in private that we do not want others to see, and having that privacy is sacred and sacrosanct. For instance, people should never have intimate relations in public: that is precisely the thing for which privacy has been created. Yet, when we do something clearly wrong in "private," like cheating on your wife with a prostitute, you do so with your whole being, your whole person. Your entire integrity goes with you into that hotel room with that strange woman or man.
Many people stated that, as long as it does not affect his job as governor, who cares what he does in his private life? Yet, don't we see that his hypocrisy and deceit in private will affect his public life as well? If he can pay $5000 per hour for a prostitute and then go home to his wife and have no problem whatsoever, then what would stop him from deceiving the people? If he can't keep the commitment to his wife, then who says he will keep his commitment to the people? That sort of hypocrisy cannot simply be compartmentalized as "private failings." It has a direct and negative effect on the person's public integrity.
I wrack my brain so many times over why a married man would cheat on his wife. Why would a married man go sleep with a prostitute? Why can't he stay faithful and loyal? Why did he get married in the first place, if he could not keep that most sacred trust safe and sound?
"Boys will be boys" is a pathetic excuse. That is not how we should be. As we are in public, we should be in private. What you see is what you should get. We should not be Deacons in public and Devils in private. That is not the way of the Lord; that is not the way of His Prophets. The Qur'an says: Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it may be against your own selves. Christ (pbuh) was reported to have said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
You bet it is hard; you bet it is a difficult challenge, one that most, if not all of us, fail to accomplish at one or another time in our lives. Yet, we must always strive on that path. Even if "everyone else is doing it," we should not do it if it is wrong. When we are in Rome, we should not "do as the Romans do," if what they are doing is wrong. If we are in the minority, well, remember this: according to the Qur'an, the people who will be in "gardens of bliss" will be "a good many of those of olden times but [only] a few of later times." (56:12-14)
I want the Lord to bless me with being one of those few. I want the Lord to bless me with being one of those few good men.