I’m once again pondering the mystery of why people have affairs, in the wake of the David Petraeus debacle and the recent “scandal” involving the estrangement of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, stars of the Twilight movie saga (because of her infidelity). To me, pondering such mysteries and making any sense out of them is right up there with the mystery of life, the nature of God, the nature of the cosmos, and the mystery of good, evil and death. In short, the full measure of understanding is beyond our grasp.
People have been having affairs since the dawn of time. History is full of such relationships. Many of the ones we know the most about have involved monarchs and famous leaders – Edward VIII of England, Cleopatra, the Caesars, many American and European politicians including presidents: Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name a few. And there are priests and clergy, and so many of the Hollywood/entertainment set that one couldn’t possibly keep accurate count. Power and sexual shenanigans seem to go hand in hand. The evidence suggests this is a fact. So the Petraeus affair is not a singular occurrence in an historical context. And, we should realize that this behavior affects many ordinary folk we never hear about – many of our neighbors, co-workers, even members of our extended family. And those folks are rarely in the news.
And even more mysterious is trying to understand why the general public is so fascinated with these happenings and so willing to weigh in and judge, or defend, one party or the other. It is the stuff of potluck gatherings, church circles, coffee klatches, dog park encounters and car pools. We salivate over the scandal rags at the market’s checkout stand. When a certain type of human behavior repeats over and over and over again with almost predictable regularity, like the cycles of the seasons, or the rising and setting of the sun, why exactly does such activity cause so much interest? I never hear people talk quite so excitedly about how the sun comes up, the sun goes down, the moon is full, the moon is waning or similar weather and cosmic occurrences, except when there are unusually beautiful sunsets that take your breath away, or eclipses or planetary phenomena that only happen every 4,000 years – those are surely worthy of comment. Continue reading