Monday, July 23, 2012

The Wrong Thing for the Right Reason?

As we gather ourselves up and trek toward the light beyond the veil, toward the depths of the mystery that is beyond time and space, we all -- every single one of us -- face many ups and downs.
            Ins and outs.
            Throughs and arounds.
            We endure seemingless endless tests of mind and heart; of strength and endurance as we now feel it; of love, honor, friendship, integrity, and truth as we now know it.
            And the consequences of these tests -- spiritual dilemmas -- reverberate throughout the corridors of all of the dimensions that we ever have, or ever will, traverse.
            It is the essence of these dilemmas that move forward with us as all else falls away into the dust of illusion that it so basically is.
            Little esoteric?
            Okay, how about an old movie I saw once; one that will haunt me forever.
            It was about a guy, an average, hard-working, primarily na├»ve (in that he thought that truth, honor, and justice were the American Way) guy.
            Not a real hero kind of guy, but a nice guy.
            The kind of guy who always tried to do the right thing for the right reason -- and that, in itself, was his core truth; the central essence of his identified being.
            Anyway, and I’ll spare you the details, but he ends up getting dragged into an inner-government interrogation room -- for questioning.
            Locked building. Guns.
            He thought he knew what it was all about when they called him in -- just some questions about a small project he’d done many years earlier for the government.
            And, although his friends and family said he shouldn’t go in alone, he didn’t listen.
            Because he knew that all he’d ever done “wrong” was -- well, this guy didn’t think he’d done anything wrong.
            He was that boring.
            And he thought that was enough.
            But you, in the audience, know that there is more to it than this guy can see.
            And you are terrified for him.
            Because you know what happened to him when he was a child.
            Because you know what this might do to him.
            But, for him, at first, it’s no big deal.
            And they do start with questions about his project, which he answered.
            No big deal.
            Then, they started asking about a guy he’d worked with, and even roomed with, on and off, for a very long time.
            Our guy didn’t have many friends, so this friend, technically, was his best friend.
            As soon as they asked about his friend, our guy knew -- and you knew as well, thanks to that track of the story -- what this was all about.
            Appearance and innuendo (another blog topic for another day).
            So, they started in with the relentless barrage -- this guy’s friend was under investigation; his friend was in big trouble; his friend had been lying to him.
            His friend was a drinker. A gambler. A druggie.
            His friend was a monster.
            His friend and thrown him under the bus and, if he was to save his reputation (and maybe more) he had better pitch his friend under a bigger one.
            To make a long story short (something I’m obviously not good at), they told him that in order to save himself -- to differentiate himself between being a suspect and a victim -- he had to call up his friend, and as they taped the conversation, get him to confess.
            At least the guy had the courage to say he wasn’t a victim.
            He knew his friend hadn’t lied to him and that this was all a twisted mistake.
            His friend wasn’t a drinker. A gambler. A druggie.
            His friend would have never thrown him under a bus.
            But, you knew, watching it, because of the barrage, and the threats, and the innuendo, and the locked building, and the sadness and remembrance of terror that was creeping into his eyes as he was told of his revolting “choice,” that the nightmare was being triggered deep within him.
            He tried to fight it.
            You can give him that much.
            And you hear the strength and truth in his narrative thought.
            That he knows to the core that his friend hasn’t done anything wrong, except perhaps make a clerical mistake that looks, granted, pretty bad.
            That because his name is on that project, he, by appearance of association, looks pretty bad too.
            That this can’t be happening.
            That it’s not real.
            That he’s in…
            Uh oh. He’s slipping down…
            But then he pulls himself up again.
            He bottom lines it for himself.
            He has two choices.
            Choice One. He stands up, indignant that in this country this type of hellacious torment can occur. He asks if he’s under arrest, and if they say no, he leaves.
            That’s his right.
            At least in the real America.
            Choice Two. He makes the call and can, in full deceit, tape his friend.
            Seems pretty easy.
            And, I admit, when I was watching it from my safe couch, I was yelling what I would do.
            Choice One. The right thing to do for the right reason.
            But I wasn’t in that situation.
            Theoretically, he was.
            Then you continue to hear his thoughts.
            That he knows his friend is not guilty.
            That, talk about appearance -- which is what this is all about -- he’d make them both look guilty if he refuses to make the call.
            That if he makes the call, he can find out the truth and prove that innocence.
            Isn’t that what everybody wants?
            The truth?
            Makes sense.
            So now, where Choice One (leaving, not taping his friend) is the right thing to do for the right reason, Choice Two (taping his friend so that all can hear the truth) is the wrong thing for the right reason.
            So, what did he do?
            He lost it.
            Unfortunate timing.
            During that pivotal decision moment a man walked in with “taping” equipment -- and a very large gun.
            Oh no.
            You see it.
             In the guy’s eyes -- his fixation on that gun.
            As large as the room.
            As violent.
            And, yep, just like you feared, our guy, our ordinary-not-much-of-a-hero guy is ripped right back into that blood-curdling, power-raping nightmare of a childhood; he’s right back in that hell that you’d witnessed at the beginning of the movie.
            Oh God.
            Stripped naked yet again. He’s now just that same six-year-old little boy standing in that barren basement before his almighty father; utterly humiliated and degraded; sobbing like only a child can sob, fully sucked back into that cage of learned helplessness that had been his entire childhood -- so he did what he was told to do.
            He makes the call.
            He deceives his friend.
            With tears streaming down your face as you watch this unfold; sharing his pain; feeling the outrage that these people had so callously destroyed what he’d spent his lifetime trying to overcome -- you watch him make the call and ask his friend for the truth about this stupid little project that meant nothing in the scheme of humanity that is the truth of our reality.
            But you know it’s over.
            You don’t hear what he says.
            You don’t even hear what his friend says.
            You already know they’re both telling the truth.
            But that’s that.
            For the guy. For the movie.
            I mean, it goes on after that, but it was too painful to watch.
            He knew deep down that he’d done the wrong thing for the right reason -- the truth.
            But, he never got over the feeling that he, like some minor Judas, had betrayed his friend (deceiving him) and had violated to the core his sense of honor wrapped up in his belief that he must always do the right thing for the right reason.
            It’s all in definitions.
            He believed that he had sacrificed his honor (at least in his own mind) to get to the truth.
            He believed that in his trauma-induced reversion to a helplessly degrading childhood he had lost his power to choose.
            And, for some reason, lying in bed, that movie has flashed through my mind over and over again.
            It wasn’t real.
            Yet the question -- the human/spiritual dilemma -- resonated.
            What was the right choice in such a situation?
            Of course, I wanted to call that guy up (knowing full well that he wasn’t real) and remind him that he had made the decision to tape his friend (the wrong thing) to prove that his friend was innocent (the right reason) BEFORE the last straw of powerlessness (the gun entering the room) thrust him backwards into a trauma no one can ever fully overcome.
            I’ve wanted to tell him that it’s all about the personal definition of right and wrong.
            If he knew his friend was innocent, then maybe to get up and leave without trying to prove would, in actually, have been the wrong thing to do? What if, plunging in, based on his faith in his friend’s veracity, and taping the call was, in actuality, the right thing to do -- for the right reason?
            I’ve wondered since that day what decision I would have made under those circumstances.
            We don’t all have the extenuating circumstances this character had -- the brutality of a childhood designed in the darkest corners of Hell coloring and flavoring his entire life and every choice he made.
            We do, however, all have our own backstory -- events and memories and experiences that shape what we do and how we do it.
            And why we do it.
            What is the right answer?
            Is there a right answer?
            What would you have done?
            Not from the safe spot on a couch as you watch a piece of fiction.
            From that chair, in that locked building, under that stress and terrifying duress?
            With that gun.
            Choose wisely.
            Knowing that it is the consequences of the decisions we make when faced with these types of core spiritual dilemmas that travel with us as boon and baggage as we ascend into the mystery.
            All part of the ups and downs, ins and outs, throughs and arounds of our trekking.