While I was sitting in the waiting room at the urgent care a few days ago, I picked up the April 27, 2009, issue of Newsweek. The cover story was an interview with Eliot Spitzer. It was probably one of the most honest and insightful articles I’ve read in a while, from both the author (Jonathan Darman) and Spitzer himself.
A few key points that I think speak to the character of the “natural man”:
Form the author: Among the many odd traits of political animals is that while they tend to find themselves fascinating, they have little aptitude for, and less interest in, analyzing themselves.
That about sums it up, but not just for “political animals.” I think we all can be this way from time to time: very self-centered, and simultaneously unwilling to look at ourselves and see the problems we have. It’s a painful experience.
From Spitzer: “there is an adrenaline that comes with … attention that is seductive and dangerous.”
I was talking to friend about this yesterday. He asked if I had ever heard of a school administrator having an affair with a teacher at the school. We talked about Sptizer’s comment, and that there are many occupations that are very public and command a great deal of attention. It requires humility to turn away from the “seductive and dangerous” attention and focus on the things that matter most in our lives.
Dialogue between Darman and Spitzer: I asked if … he knew he was doing something wrong.
“Yes,” he said. “No question about that.”
Did he know what the risk was?
Wow. This speaks volumes. The natural man will do this all the time; it’s part of who we are. We know something is wrong, yet we choose to do it anyway. Most of us would likely not commit a felony, but we might break the speed limit on the way to the store.
Did Aaron know it was wrong to build the golden calf in the desert? Yes. Did he know what the risk was? Absolutely.
Did Peter know it was wrong to deny his association with Christ? Yes. Did he understand the risk? Beyond a doubt.
Finally, this insight from Spitzer: “The human mind does, and permits people to do things that they rationally know are wrong, outrageous … We succumb to temptations that we know are wrong and foolish when we do it and then in hindsight we say, ‘How could I have?'”
I am still amazed at the insight into life offered by this once public figure who has now had an opportunity to step back and examine himself and his behavior.