Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hold that stone.

It’s stone casting time guys. Everybody take up that rock and take aim.

Today’s papers (8 September 2016) reports that a lawyer, "who had an affair with a former air stewardess he was representing in divorce-related matters, was given a three-month suspension by a Court of Three Judges yesterday.

To add to that grip in the rock you are holding, the lawyer, Mr Lee, is married and admitted to the tryst at a hotel over two days in January 2014. And to burst that bobbing vein in your grip, the lady has a boyfriend and it was he who reported the incident to Law Society.

Both were therefore supposedly attached: one matrimonial ties, and the other, in a courtship.

Mr Lee in fact “romanced his client for over two months, while representing her in ancillary matters in divorce proceedings, and took some time to transfer the case to another law firm.”

In mitigation, Mr Lee said that he “was in a genuine relationship with her and was not being dishonest” and being a lawyer of 12 years' standing, he also did active pro bono legal work and served the Law Society.

Giving no excuses, he expressed his deep remorse over the whole incident.

Lesson? Three.

1) The dilemma of monogamy. To some, monogamy is freedom. To others, it is a sentence. To still others, it is an excuse to do as thou wilt.

For some married men, the 7-year itch never comes – his soul mate is the repellant to all itches (corny, I know). For others, it comes once or twice. For still others, it is an irresistible rash that requires constant scratching. Alas, show me a man who loved unconditionally and I will show you more than a dozen who don’t.

We live in a world soaked in ideals all the time. It is the ideals of perfection. And it is at times a struggle of herculean proportions to keep it up.

Mind you, I am not excusing Mr Lee’s conduct. I am just trying to understand it. It is without a doubt that he has violated a sacred code for lawyers, breached a hallowed trust between a professional and his client, taken advantage of a situation of unequal powers and position, and most of all, betrayed the marital vows he had sworn to uphold.

Yet, who has never fallen prey to a momentary lapse, and then perpetuate it with the hope of never getting caught? There are skeletons in all our closets and some closets are well-designed catacombs with chambers of secrets only the schemer himself (or herself) knows.

2) The human prick. Every man confronts a demon. This is the demon of himself. It is a demon of endless appetites. It is a demon of wanting more, never having enough, and seeking alternative thrills to get out of the monotony of life (and monogamy).

Temptation is really the least of a man’s concern here. It is unrealistic to expect men not to be tempted. The world around us is so hyper-sexualized that you have to be living in a cave, perched high above a mountain and surrounded by a moat of crocodiles not to be distracted everywhere you go.

However, what is a man’s greatest twin nemesis in a profession that is liken to the Omerta Oath – the code of silence and confidentiality between lawyers and clients – is opportunity and time. Given the right opportunity and enough time, most men will fall.

And just as choices are made by men, opportunity and time are also made by them. It is often blows after blows of crushing waves over an enduringly long time that wear off the rock and with blows after blows of opportunity and time given for the subject-matter of one’s attention, a violation of some sort is just a stone’s throw away.

3) Hold that stone. It is reported that after the hearing, Mr Lee told reporters: "I'm very sorry that I've hurt the people around me. I hope to be given the space to recover."

There is just something endearingly redeeming about a man who repents. Of course, repentance must bear fruits and again, it is about opportunity and time, that is, consciously making the opportunity to make amends and pay the price, and giving it sufficient time to see it through to fruition.

For me, everyday I wake up and look into my wife’s and children’s faces (while they are asleep), I tell myself that I am going to make many choices today. Innumerable choices in fact. And the only question for me is this: Will my choices add up to make me love her and them more or draw me away little by little from them?

If I don’t live intentionally, then I live on autopilot and the latter is always the demon’s breeding ground. You see, the celebrated matador always go for the heart of the bull because that is where it truly counts.

And for me, I go to the heart of the issue where lasting changes can be found. And the heart of the issue is to enlarge the opportunity for love and faithfulness in my marriage and life by making conscious choices over time in the right direction, notwithstanding the occasional slips. I understand that love rewards, but you have to earn it first.

So, I am letting go of my grip and the stone now as I see more hope in a repentant man who is prepared to make amends than one who justifies a wrong with a shovel and layer after layer of obstinacy. Cheerz.

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