Because Rabbi Kushner posed that troubling question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” it seems entirely proper to now pose the next big question, “Why do good people do bad things?”
We are headline-deep in troubling examples. Coach Paterno and Penn State are simply the latest boils on the body politic. This disease-of-misdeeds is virulent. Coaches…politicians…bankers… priests…athletes….celebrities. What is the strain that runs through the disease? Power! Everyone whose misdeeds have lately arrived in the national ER gush from their enormous hold on power.
Over a century ago the British Lord Acton said it painfully well: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In each of the current cases, the deed done was done from a position of absolute power being imposed on the almost absolutely powerless.
You don’t have to look far to find ways in which this disease has now triggered social anti-bodies. Consider the rise of the powerless in today’s mass protests. The Tea Party opposes the power of government…the OWS opposes the power of the 1%….the municipal workers unions in states like Wisconsin and Ohio oppose the power of the governor…damn near everyone in their local barbershop and beauty salon opposes damn near everything they read in their newspapers!
Nothing new here. Like cancer, this disease of power-over-the powerless has corrupted the body politic of tribes and nations from the get-go. This lack of mutual respect is in our very DNA. The only way to cure it — well, if not cured at least contained — is if the powerless compel the powerful to sit down in the patient’s room as equal partners in finding a workable protocol for recovery.
Simply put…..the powerless need to get some systemic relief for their condition; while the powerful need to accommodate this need before it is seized from out of their hands. Sometimes even elections can help find such accommodation.
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