I came across a TED Talk recently, the title of which immediately captured my attention. It was called “The Price of Shame” and was delivered by Monica Lewinsky, of Clinton presidency infamy. I’m going to be very honest here, most definitely at the risk of exposing myself, but I think it is good because I do need to be ashamed of myself. So, when I first realized she’d be the one talking on this issue of shame, my interest was not only piqued, but I think that internally I may also have rolled my eyes. After all, what could she have to say now? What else do we really need to know about her? In other words, I thought: could anything good come from a woman like her?

 

Exactly. A woman like her. What was that about? What would permit me to even allow myself think that way? Let’s explore. Within minutes of listening to her narrate the life-changing events of her young 22-year-old self, especially the fact that, without making excuses, she still gave herself permission to be a human, I started questioning the stone I was holding in my hand. What 20-something-year-old has never done something that is worthy of shame? How many things have I done (till date!) that I feel moderately OK about only because they’re not public knowledge? She knew she made a terrible mistake by falling in love with her boss. Who also happened to be the president, and yes, married. She definitely knows that now. But man, we the public (me included!) have been vile about her mistake without ever considering our own selves.

child-stone

I don’t want to give away the entire content of the talk because I really think our world needs to watch it (I really really do encourage you to spend that 20 minutes on it), but I want to acknowledge that, upon reflection, I think I have been one of those people who throws stones easily. Who occasionally sees other people in only 2D. Who does not always seek to understand their stories and their choices within context. I could not believe that after all these years, I only saw her as that “other woman”, and not as a woman who’d likely made a mistake, and (gasp!) learned from it, grown as a result, had even perhaps totally changed. She is a woman I may in actual fact get along with so well if I met her now. Now, I know that I have always admired tested people, those who have gone through the fires of difficulty and have more than survived. She survived the extreme bullying that the world doled at her, and she neither took her life nor opted to stay under. She’s a strong woman. She’s a strong person. I admire that about her, and I’m sure there’s so much more that I could learn from her.

 

One thing for sure that I did learn from that talk: it is my place to condemn sin, but it is never my place to act as judge of a person. There is a difference. I don’t know the totality of any one soul, but God who made that person does. God has loved me completely, even and especially when I have least deserved it. If I can receive such grace and mercy, my goodness, then what am I doing with this stone in my hand?? I may never be crowned a crazy internet troll, but the mere fact that I may thumb my nose up at a figure who’s made a mistake, without my ever knowing them personally, makes me just as guilty.

 

I agree with Monica. It is time to reverse the conversation. It is time to do away with this culture of shaming. It is time to love as Jesus does.

 

In the Bible story (see John 8: 1-11), Jesus asked the “righteous Pharisees” to go ahead and stone the woman caught in adultery, only if they’d never sinned. When they walked away, unable to cast one stone, He then looked at her, eyes full of deep, real, enduring love, and said: “Go, and sin no more.”

 

That’s His heart. I need to mirror it.

©2017, WriTEswAY

10 thoughts on “Throwing e-stones

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing. Until now I could count myself guilty of condeming her for her past deeds. Not realizing that we as humans learn and grow from our mistakes.

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    • Exactly right. And for me it’s not just a case of “oh, I did this to her??”, but more a realization of how easily I pass judgment daily, you know? Lots to learn.

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  2. This is a necessary topic to discuss.

    Being someone who has been on both ends of this rope, it is a little easier to see from both perspectives.
    This world is a cruel place to live.
    It is hard to believe the changes over my lifetime. At my age, I can say that I lived to see a much less cruel world when I was young.
    Acceptable then was nothing like it is now.
    Some years ago, what happened with Monica would have been hushed up and swept under the rug. Completely humiliating.
    These days, it’s not all that unusual, therefore, recovering your footing after such slanderous rock throwing is much easier achieved.
    The ability to love someone unconditionally , usually only fully comes when you’ve experienced both, being the rock thrower and the recipient of the blow.
    When you can truly wrap your emotions around the feelings that come from both being the humiliated and the humiliator, then you may come close to truly walking without judgment and loving the person who they are, human, not perfect, just like us and surely worth loving.

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    • Gosh, I love your response. Truly thought-provoking. I’m in full agreement. Empathy, which usually is a learned thing based on tough life experiences, really helps us be more loving. It needn’t only be that way though.
      I am definitely interested to hear more of your thoughts on this: you’re saying that because things were more hush hush in the past, it was way more difficult for recovery to occur from shameful experiences?

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  3. This is really thought provoking. When next I am tempted to throw stones, may I remember the question Jesus asked the crowd who wanted to throw stones at the woman caught in adultery and stop.

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  4. That’s some real food for thought. It’s really the norm nowadays. I call it the culture of the “pile-on”. It’s like back in grade school days. The bully singles out a person worthy of shame and everyone points and laughs. Why? It made us feel better about ourselves…that we were part of the in-crowd. I pray that I become a person that loves and honors people, warts and all…as Paul said, owing nothing but love. That when I speak truth, it’s with love. That I don’t confuse love with endorsement or agreement. Examples like Ghandi, MLK and ultimately Jesus are good models of this.

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    • Yes! And I love those human examples you provided. Shows us that it CAN indeed be done. It’s time we stopped living for endorsing bullying.

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  5. How so true. I am reflecting ever more, how often I watch TV to see/hear the latest Trump foible. What is it about me that desires to gobble up all the bad press. The man is not without his problems, don’t get me wrong. He is the President of a nation I hold its passport. He got there by the votes of quite a few million Americans, some of who I know personally and respect in many ways. Was the Clinton alternative such a great alternative? No matter now. I should grow into praying for and hoping the best for him and my countries. The stones in my hands should drop!!

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    • I am truly blessed by this comment. Absolutely. There ARE indeed people who make it easy for mockery to take place. Trump truly did, and has. I am one of those people who was part of the crowd that laughed at everything President Bush (junior) said or did wrong. Looking back, I’m ashamed. What in the world ever makes that ok? What does that say about my maturity? My sense of self? My honor of another human being made by God Himself?
      Yes…lots to learn.

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