He drugged her with three blue pills and a glass of wine. He laid her down to rest on the couch. He positioned himself behind her. And he fondled her, penetrating her with his fingers.
This is the New Year’s Straits Times report. The accused arraigned on Wednesday was Bill Cosby. The victim was his former Temple University associate Andrea Constand. It all happened in 2004. Bill Cosby now faces a charge of sexual assault. More than 50 women had publicly accused him of sexually assaulting them in similar fashion dating back to decades.
Bill Cosby came to Court a broken man. The 78-year-old comedian struggled with a cane up Pennsylvania Court-house and due to a degenerative eye condition, he had trouble seeing the paperwork. His lawyers nevertheless called the criminal charge “unjustified” and “promised a vigorous defence”.
Lesson? One, about truth.
A noted historian Will Durant once said that “children and fools speak the truth and they find happiness in their sincerity.” Are the rest of us then condemned to fudge the truth, live a life of evasion and concealment, shifting in the shadows of excuses, finger-pointing and self-justification for a major portion of our life? Is the truth that difficult or hot to handle, and if we serve it up with our bare hands, it will burn or scar us permanently?
In November 2006, the televangelist Pastor Ted Haggard, a God-fearing father of five and a leading shepherd to thousands, was accused “by a male escort of paying for sex as well as crystal meth.” But Haggard fought the accusation made by the beefy social escort Mike Jones. He told the assembled reporters that “I’ve never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I’m steady with my wife.”
Haggard was in fact against any form of homosexuality, and with firebrand denouncement, he preached in no uncertain terms that it is a sin and it is a “life that is against God.”
Then, a few days later, his vehemence of innocence fell apart. He resigned from his Church and confessed this: “There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life.” He finally admitted to the accusation. In the book “10% Happier,” the author and co-anchor of Nightline, Dan Harris, conducted an interview with the fallen pastor and this is a relevant extract of it.
“I dove right in. “Is it fair to describe you as a hypocrite and a liar?” I asked. “Yes. Yes, it is,” he said, almost enthusiastically, as if he couldn’t wait to get this off his chest. “Do you think you owe gay people an apology?” I asked. “Absolutely. And I do apologize,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry for the attitude I had. But I think I was partially so vehement because – because of my own war.” Amazingly to me (Dan Harris), he insisted he wasn’t gay. Months of psychotherapy, he said, had cleared everything up. “Now I’m settled in the fact that I am a heterosexual, but with issues,” he said. “So I don’t fit into a neat little box.” He said it was no problem to stay faithful to his wife. “It’s not a struggle at all now.” “Why not just live as a gay man?” I asked. “Cause I love my wife. I love my intimate relationship with my wife. I’m not gay.” “Can you hear people watching this, though, and thinking to themselves, “This guy is just not being honest with himself?” “Sure, but everybody has their own journey. And people can judge me. I think it’s fair if they judge me and that they think I’m not being real with myself.”
My takeaway from that painful interview is captured in a few words: “I don’t fit into a neat little box”. Now that’s one truth that survived the interview in my view. We are indeed an enigma, wrapped in a quagmire, and buried in the forgotten mantle core of our self-denying machinations. And apologizing for our mistakes is only the second hardest thing to do. The hardest thing of all time is “being honest” and “being real” with ourselves. That’s a feat that makes fishing the Lock Ness Leviathan out for a quick barbecue by the Scottish highland a walk in the park.
Here I am reminded of Kong Hee and his 142-day saga with the truth. I suspect our local mega-church pastor shares something akin to Ted Haggard - and all of humanity - and it is this: the war within us. It is a moral struggle on a far epic and grander scale than the many wars we have fought in the physical world. Each of us has to confront this battle in the strictest of privacy and we have only three weapons against it: self-examination, self-denunciation and self-correction. Nothing less will do. No show of Calvary can ever save us except the one who willingly puts himself on it to be crucified.
And if the truth shall set us free, our foremost struggle is not about knowing it to be free. It is about applying it with the strictest of standards to our life, our thoughts and our actions. Alas, we will always be a slave to our own deceit if we use the truth as a self-righteous ruler to measure others unsparingly while sparing ourselves of it.
Let me end with the lyrics from a music album Heartless:
“Lie to me just a little bit longer.
Lie to me until I’m stronger…
I’m not ready yet.
So lie to me.”
I guess what distinguishes a child (or a fool) from the rest of humanity is that he accepts the truth and lives it out the best he knows how. Sadly, the rest of us are still struggling with it. Cheerz.