Scandal

Welcome to my blog, Ground One.

Ground Zero :  Function:  noun; Date:  1946 ~ 1: the point directly above, below, or at which a nuclear explosion occurs; 2: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change; 3: the very beginning .

Ground One:  Function: verb; Date: 2008 ~ 1: to create a new beginning from an ending, starting from the ground up; 2: to use one’s  life beliefs and values to break new ground; 3: to ground oneself; i.e., to become one with the earth or universal whole; 4: to journey within to find new solutions to ancient problems;  5:  to use one’s unique individual gifts to improve the whole; 6: to find common ground among a diversity of cultures, philosophies, and ideas.

My apologies to my regular readers for my silence over the holidays. I had the best of intentions of writing while working and traveling, but I have now learned my lesson—I will not attempt to  post when on the road. From now on, I will leave a date upon which I will return, so you will not be looking for a new post that doesn’t arrive. At present, I am not traveling often, so please know the winter will have regular weekly posts and that you will be notified if circumstances change. Here is what I’ve been thinking about for the last week or so:

Scandals. Why are they so all important at the time they occur and seem so trivial a century—even a decade–later? I’ve begun reading yet another book about a famous (or might we say  “infamous”) affair. The book is well-written, absorbing, and receiving very positive reviews. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan “reveals what we expect to get from great fiction: timeless truths about ourselves,” says the New York Daily News. “A fascinating love story enriched by important themes and spiced by a famous character,” oozes the San Francisco Chronicle. “A glory to behold,” pronounces New York.

            This first novel, historical in context, details a relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and  Chicago feminist Mamah Cheney, an affair that ended both of their marriages. Even so, an affair I had never heard of. A woman I had never heard of. Yes, the two loved passionately. Yes, they were considered a Chicago scandal. Yes, their relationship forever changed their lives. I won’t ruin the ending for you because I haven’t read it myself.

            Yet as I read each intriguing page, I wonder how such an affair is now considered “obscure” (a word from yet another rave review) if it once forever changed two people’s lives—and not all for the better? As I turn each page, I see Monica Lewinsky’s and Bill Clinton’s faces. I remember the themes of the Broadway play Wicked, which dares examine scandal in the context of perception versus reality. I remember several former colleagues who had to leave their jobs because of an extramarital affair. I’m not saying that adultery is moral or to be condoned. I’m just asking why we fixate on it as a society, why we want to send these people out of town on a rail—why we enjoy seeing their downfalls.

            But for the grace of God go I.

            Of course, I’m the one who feels sorry for everyone in some form or another: everyone from the hanged dictatorial despot to the politician with his (why is it always his?) hands caught in the proverbial cookie jar. I especially feel sorry for politicians and other celebrities who are forever under the microscope and who may lead lives of total integrity, but make one fatal move that stalls or ends their careers.

            I’ve been pondering all of this as I’ve been pondering God’s forgiveness and human frailty at Christmas time, a time He/She was supposed to send down someone who would wash away our sins. If so, why are we still so obsessed with everyone else’s?

            In Loving Frank, the fictional Mamah calls her choice one “in harmony with my own soul.” If we were made in God’s image and given free will—and Mamah wasn’t mistaken about what her soul was telling her—then why do we judge her that decision? I wish more details would appear that would elucidate what went on in their minds as well as Frank’s and Mamah’s souls, so that we might learn from what was not an easy or easily made life decision. The book is historically accurate, based upon personal correspondence from Mamah Cheney. Yet the correspondence between Frank and Mamah is gone with the wind. And Frank is predictably silent on the topic of his relationship with her. Yet they lived together in Europe for many years.

            The novel is particularly interesting to me as a writer because I touched on the themes of unrequited passion, love, “soul mates,” and adultery—not to mention arranged marriage, fundamentalism in religion, cultural mores, and rigidity of principle—in my novel Incongruent. I struggled to treat these themes in an objective manner. Who knows if I could have dealt with them as objectively if I’d been in such a situation or my name had been splattered all over the headlines? I do know that no one will ever know the full story of Frank’s and Mamah’s love, any more than they know about any love affair that begins, any more than they will know the full story of any marriage that ends.

            And that’s my point. How can we judge that which we do not know?

            Scandals. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place without them? All they cause is a lot of static…static that eventually dissipates but can ruin lives.

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