Image Source: Minnesota Public Radio
"Distraction" is what we call news stories that trump what we'd rather be hearing about. We especially deem news a distraction if it's a high-profile sex scandal like that of the once heralded General and CIA Director, David Petraeus , whose confession is thought by many to be a "distraction" for what may have really happened in Benghazi . It seems these sexual indiscretions are a dime a dozen these days, and many have shrugged this off just as they did Arnold Schwarzenegger , Congressman Wiener , the Secret Service , Brett McGurk , and the many other notables before them as well as those yet to come. People who think "it doesn't matter" clearly have not thought it through. I feel compelled to put the word "distraction" into the proper context of these stories and explain why it does matter--or at least why it should matter.
We have a long list of things that matter--from the issue of family values and how they relate to the military's code of conduct to an honest assessment of the military's burden in these cases; from our international reputation to security and any potential breaches; and from America's level of acceptance driven by the common disregard of those in power to the double talk and excuses of Washington D.C. Thanks to expanding technology, we can now scrape away the bullshit on the surface and embrace the opportunity to have a national discussion.
So let's talk. Let's talk about the ramifications of good sex --I mean down and dirty, hot, freakin' sex. Think back to that time with that woman or man, that blushing secret arousal and its anticipatory, heart-racing need, that constant "distraction" of desire and attraction. We've all been there. Maybe you don't need to think back. Maybe you have someone right now. You know, that person you can't stop thinking about no matter what's going on, no matter who you are already attached to. All the emails, texts and calls during work hours shuffled between meetings--sometimes using work-provided equipment. And, then there's the sneaking around later just to say hi after you're home in the evenings and on the weekends. The intoxication of those stolen glances above the heads of, or ignored by, those around you. It's a deep, needful ache that drives your days and leaves you panting throughout your nights. You know that power! Oh, the things it can make you do, and the things it can make you forget--things like vows and wedding rings, oaths to God, and sometimes even oaths to your country.
So, why would anyone make the assumption that any of these men or women involved in sex scandals could not or would not have jeopardized any mission to which they were responsible for? Why not? They participated in the affairs with a full understanding of the consequences of their actions. They knew there would be a ripple effect of repercussions politically, martially, and career wise. In fact, sex is one of the few things people often risk everything for. How can there be any assumption that poor judgment only played out in their pants when we know how desire can mess with your mind?
How many decisions were made by those who were only partially paying attention? How many people have died because of those decisions? How many important meetings were fantasized through? How many of our tax dollars have been spent to cultivate and hide illicit relationships in and out of Washington? And, why in the hell is it the "other" person's fault instead of the fault of those who perpetrate the offenses? Remember, these are men and women we elect, or otherwise select and intellectually and emotionally uphold, as well as financially support. The people we have willfully given and entrusted power to are doing us a disservice, and it does matter! If life is a series of events that build upon each another, how might the series have gone had the events been different?
Honey pots are real. There are men and women in and out of our government who use physical and emotional relationships to leverage information. But, that doesn't mean one is or has to be a spy in order to hear or see something that is classified. It also doesn't mean that a secret relationship can't have some emotional merit of its own outside of any other agenda--real or imagined. What it does mean is we are susceptible from myriad angles. Sex is sex, and it's a powerful and pervasive thing regardless of whether or not it's illicit. It holds a power of persuasion stronger than any other thing, and it can be used for no good. It can also spark even the most careful and conscientious soul into a consensual atmosphere of smoldering lapses in judgment, decreased decorum--including that of the tongue--and feelings of real omnipotence. Like M.C. Hammer's song "You Can't Touch This," most people involved in a scandal--before it becomes a scandal--feel that way. Sadly, once the story hits, they're mostly right.
So, how can we begin to fix a problem so deeply rooted in our culture and in our own human physiology? Let's start with the separation factor involved in most of these cases. Military and political leaders spend a lot of time away from home, and a quiet prerequisite to their power positions is the ability to appear motivated by good ol' American family values, i.e. being married. I hate to break it to you, but while distance may make the heart grow fonder, it also makes the libido grow hotter, and it isn't always for the one waiting at home. More thought needs to be put into making protocol changes in the military and government sector to truly accommodate and support a committed and married lifestyle, starting with decreasing long durations of marital separations. Being apart less is not going to solve the problem of adultery, but it will certainly go a long way to slow its spread, as will enforcing negative consequences for those who do not adhere to the code of conduct they've been sworn to uphold.
We need a government that stops opposing same-sex marriage under the guise of "preserving the sanctity of marriage" and instead put their private parts where their mouths are " err maybe not exactly, but you get what I mean. With divorce rates at or above 50 percent and infidelity consistently ranking as a top reason for divorce , it's no wonder the foundation of family values is corroded. Isn't the sanctity of marriage about loyalty, commitment, trust, and honor? Hmm, that sounds a lot like the values in that other vow, the one taken in allegiance to a country one supposedly serves. Who is preserving the sanctity of marriage, and why are we so quick to dismiss the potential of further wrongdoing as if the possibility is unquestionable? In the case of Petraeus and his biographer, they are both married, and at least one of them was entrusted with not only our country's security but also the lives of countless service members and civilians. They crossed the line, knowing full well what they were doing. Aren't the real victims America and the "sanctity of marriage"? Where is the disgust and indignation now ?
Finger-pointing after the fact is selective at best given the political season, the players in and out of office, and the identities of the parties involved. In the past it was "the bigger the name, the bigger the potential story." But, in today's world, the public's reaction is blasÃ© at best. Instead, politicians and leaders are able to use scandals to jockey for position on mostly unrelated issues while they and the media publicly demonize the other man or woman and launch forgiveness campaigns for "Der leader." This kind of atmosphere only breeds further acceptance and complacency by the people while creating an environment that says that leaders can get away with just about anything if there's a good marketing campaign behind it. By the time the story gets spun, most conversations revolve around how attractive the lover is, along with the inevitable and often unfair comparisons between the spouse and the lover. Is it the lover's fault for being irresistible, or is it the spouse's fault for letting themselves go?
We can't even blame that old fall guy Hollywood for making sex sexier. Our bodies were designed to do a handful of things, and sex is right up there with breathing and drinking water. But, our minds have evolved to be able to discern right and wrong, and when we knowingly stray from what's right, we are consciously choosing what's wrong. If our morals were as high as the horses we preached them from, we'd be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, there's a different set of rules when it comes to sex. America talks out of both sides of her mouth, and as we sit back weighing the "sanctity of marriage" amid these "distractions," we are reminded of how far we haven't come as a species, so we quietly classify our own dirty little secrets, hoping and praying we won't have to talk about it much. There's nothing to see here folks. And, now for a word from a sponsor: Pepsi's doing their part to help keep his zipper up and your BMI down with their all new fat blocking soda .