Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Eddie Long Ya Wrong" (and other thoughts)

Last week I heard about the Black minister Eddie Long for the first time. There was a blog with a posting titled "Dick-Sucking Eddie Long Ya Wrong!!" with a blond woman with sunglasses on. I looked at the title and decided that this could wait.

A few days later more news broke about Bishop Eddie Long. He was being sued by 4 now-of-age men who all claimed that the bishop sexually seduced and abused them when they were in their teens. But I kept seeing this blond woman named "Cadillac Kimberly" with her vblog posting. I clicked on the link. I was amused, amazed, fascinated, but still perplexed. Who is Eddie Long?

If I'm to believe Cadillac Kimberly, Eddie Long is a degenerate. He's a con man, a liar, and the worst type of swindler who sprinkles Bible quotes into 'get-rich' schemes that only enrich his coffers. If I'm to believe Cadillac Kimberly, Bishop Long may even be a pedophile and a gay sodomite (add the word 'gay' is an important point of clarification because the term sodomite merely implies having sex in any area outside of the reproductive system of a woman).

At the end of her vblog she implored the members of Long's church to take 5 minutes and ask the Lord what they should do and to consider if the charges leveled against Long could be true. The short 4 minute clip is hilarious, profane, explicit, and maybe even slanderous. It appeals to my instinct for infotainment, gossip, ill will, and the subtle glee I feel when a man of power falls down. I had to stop watching the clip.

There are a lot of provocative and engaging things said in the vblog but I had to switch my focus away from the gossip and to what questions this brought about in my own practice, my own thoughts. I'm not in Atlanta, I don't attend a mega-church, and before this news broke I wouldn't have known Eddie Long if he was walking right next to me.

I googled Eddie Long and thousands of links came up about donations, volunteers, services rendered by his church to the homeless, the jobless, the destitute. Apparently his church has also donated to AIDS funds in Africa, hosted conferences for women, and looks to have changed a lot of people's lives. There were also links about his Bentley's, his lavish expenses, and high-flying ways. The question became less and less who was Eddie Long and more about 'who am I?'

Who am I to judge? Who am I to decide the intentions of another person? I have no idea who Eddie Long is, but I do know one thing: I'm not taking homeless people off the street. I'm not rendering services to AIDS patients, and donating thousands of dollars to the poor. That doesn't mean that the charges aren't true, but it reminds me of how much I have to reserve judgment on another, especially when it is so tempting.

The gossip is right there, all the necessary pieces: power, money, sex, scams, sinner or saint. All the things that make for pure pop candy and soap operatic intrigue. I could grab at the candy and gobble it down. I could fatten myself on the best or the worst of the world's judgment. But what good is it going to to do me? Is this going to help me in my practice? Is this going to help me become enlightened? Is this even going to make me feel better about myself and my life?

The question of Eddie Long reflects more on the ones passing judgment (me!!) rather than the object being scrutinized.

And what if Bishop Long didn't do it? Does he deserve an apology from me for being entertained by his pain? If I twist my ankle and someone takes joy in my pain how would I feel? The fall calls pain, but the judgment burns much deeper. I have been hurt before and felt the look of pleasure from others in my suffering. It is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. I have also been hurt and had hands of love reach out to help me up. The pain of the fall -in that split second- disappears and my mind switches focus to the hand. I become aware that someone is offering help, someone is offering compassion. And even though the physical pain may return, for one moment I'm aware of love. And it is impossible to feel pain or hurt when I'm in the presence of that amazing healing power.

But then there's also the moral question: what if Bishop Long did do it? Does that wipe away the thousands helped? What happens when 'seemingly good' people do monstrous acts? Does that cancel out the good? Should the homeless be stripped of their homes if they were attained through Bishop Long's so-called swindling? Should the AIDS patients have to give back their drugs if they were purchased by Long 'fleecing' his sheep? I think most people would say absolutely not, that to even suggest that is simplistic and ridiculous. So if we can't cancel the actions, what am I to make of cancelling the good feelings from those actions? It would be logical to conclude that if the deed can't be cancelled out, then the good karmic imprint can't be cancelled either.

As an aside I know many doctors who profess to hating their job. They despise their patients and hate the medical profession. Their passion is golf and they use their medical license to fund their habits and hobbies. But I also know that some of these doctors save people's lives. Even though they may only being doing the triple-bypass surgery so they can buy a new car, does that negate saving the person's life? Taking this truth to an exaggerated extreme: what if I found the best surgeon in the world: someone precise, sharp, always quick to make the right decision, and has never lost a patient. And what if this same brilliant, flawless surgeon had a deep hatred and ridicule for his patients, and was only doing the job so he could buy a mansion and fill it with child prostitutes and illegal drugs? If my mom needed surgery, would I avoid this physician because I abhorred his intentions? Would I risk her life in passing judgment on the man who is trying to help?

I don't have answers for this but it makes me think about my own prejudices. If anything, the Eddie Long situation is another example of how much ill will is still in my heart. I hope things get resolved in the best light. But more importantly, I hope that next time I'm less quick to enjoy in another man's fall.

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