“How STUPID” was the comment my wife and I simultaneously uttered last night while watching the news report of Republican congressman Chris Lee resigning after his shirtless Craigslist post.
The reporter said, “Republican politician resigns after woman’s web search reveals ‘fit fun classy guy’ posing as divorcee to be in fact married with a son.”
You probably know the story by now. Our response of “how stupid” resulted from the disconnect. After all, how could a powerful, second-term US Congressman do something so wreckless and, yes, stupid?
He has a wife and son and was a rising star in the Republican Party, but he tanked. Why?
My sense is that he became stupid like most of us do … slowly but surely. Here is what seems to be the evolution of this kind of stupidity.
- Success and recognition of our accomplishments.
- Beginning to believe our own press.
- A lack of attention to and/or unwillingness to address character flaws and inappropriate and unhealthy internal motivations.
- Pressures of leadership and life.
- Refusal to develop self-discipline and good habits.
- A sense of inadequacy and unfulfillment.
- Development of a facade or public front.
- A growing lack of support and personal accountability.
- Increasing split between the private and public life.
- Self-sabotaging behavior.
- Increasingly risky activities.
- Crashing publicly.
- Disgrace and dishonor.
That’s my take on how we become stupid. We all have the capacity to end up there. That’s why we so desperately need friends who support us and hold our feet to the fire, internal spiritual resources, a focus on inner life and integrity (same in public as we are in private), and the humility to admit when we mess up (as we all do).
By the way, my wife and I are both filled with sorrow for him (hey we’re all seriously flawed), his family, the US Congress and the millions of people touched by yet another sad situation. But this forced me to ask how can this kind of thing happens?
What do you think? Did I get this right? What would you add or edit? Let’s think about this together.