There’s been a recent news story in Canada that has many people polarized and it speaks to the power of perspective. A prominent national radio host has been fired and he claims it is because he has been defamed by what he describes as a former jilted lover who is now claiming consensual BDSM sex was in fact non-consensual. Naturally any woman who’s endured the horror of anyone using any means to obtain non-consensual sex will be immediately reminded of the intense level of violation that they experienced. Similarly, any man who’s been falsely accused will also be reminded of their own horrors in finding it impossible to defend themselves against unprovable he-said she-said allegations that will echo throughout the rest of their lives.
It’s just a horrible situation all-around and while I felt the sting of it because I myself have experienced such an attack, I simply have no idea regarding who might be telling the truth. There are additional alleged victims coming forward who may be able to back up the original story, and yet the host is wealthy and popular and there is always the possibility that people do have ulterior motives. All I know is that something terrible happened, I just don’t know which parties have been wronged and I wish I did because I would extend my compassion because any of those positions would be agonizing to be in.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the host himself but I am an unabashed fan of the show and I will even give the host props for being a far above-average interviewer and many superstars agree. He’s often gotten interviews from people famous for not giving interviews. And at the same time, those skills don’t mean he can’t have horrible ideas about how to relate to women and it is entirely plausible to me that his fame could have tipped an already potentially dangerous personality into a literally dangerous one. If he has been hurting women then I’m glad it’s come out so he can be stopped and so they can be supported.
Because I cannot know, I don’t give the matter much thought because that would be little more than painful ruminations to no good end. But others are jumping on all kinds of bandwagons and their views are informed by their histories and beliefs. Some say there’s no chance several women could all be lying and yet it would be easy to find examples of such things. Likewise, people can like the host and hate the idea that they were aligned with a rapist and so they can easily be defending him as a way of avoiding their own guilt-by-association. People lie for all kinds of reasons, and my point here is that the reason we should not take our opinions seriously is because they are based on beliefs and not on some hard reality.
You might be familiar with the website PostSecret. This was a clever idea for a site started by Frank Warren. The premise is that people mail in anonymous postcards containing secrets that they find difficult to maintain because they are so meaningful. Of course some of the cards themselves can be faked so the fact that they exist is no guarantee that they are true. And yet at the same time, doing the work I do, my sofa is a bit like a PostSecret seat where people admit to me secrets that they are sometimes suicidal about.
By now I’m sure you’re wondering what kinds of things I mean, so I’m using some actual PostSecret examples here in the photos to illustrate the kinds of things I mean. The worst example I can recall from my own practice is from many years ago. Two sisters who—when they were tweens—fabricated an affair for their father because they were angry at him. The whole thing rolled out of control and the parents divorced, leading to the mother being deeply depressed where she has in turn fallen into abusing both painkillers and alcohol. The younger sister came to me nearly a decade later concerned that her older sister was suicidal over their mother’s increasing self-abuse.
I’m sure you can see that as young kids it was easy for them not to extrapolate out what kind of things might unfold in an adult mind. I know for sure they never planned on causing their parents to divorce. They destroyed their own home and pushed their heartbroken mother to the brink, all over something that never actually happened. It’s tortuous to them that their father still loves them even though they know he is livid over what happened. He feels entirely violated and cannot believe anyone would be so heinous as to do such a cruel thing, and his own daughters often hear their father angrily describing the villain(s) in the worst possible terms, without him ever realizing that he is telling the story to the perpetrators. They routinely hear him describing the worst kind of person possible and they know he’s describing them. In essence, what took a few days to concoct has now lead to four people leading hellish lives for over a decade. That’s 40 years worth of suffering all for one childish lie. That’s a big one.
Now we can judge these girls for not coming clean. We can say it’s their responsibility, we can say they were clearly wrong, but they were eleven and thirteen. This was raging hormones combined with intense anger meeting naive minds and clever technical abilities. It was the perfect storm and it took down what otherwise had been by all accounts a great marriage—which is in part why it was so devastating to the mother who had thought her husband was incapable of such a thing—and indeed he likely was/is.
If you don’t think they’re paying for it, think again. One has a drug problem and the other was suicidal. They live with this every single day. Everything they do reminds them of it. They are thoroughly self-hating. Imagine listening to your beloved father describing what he would like to do to the person who set him up when you know he’s describing what he would like to do to you. That if your own father knew it was you, he would want to kill you. It’s just heartbreaking and there’s no reason to think the truth would do anything other than make it worse. At least both parents love their kids. If they know the truth they’ll lose that too.
Please don’t assume you know things because people have told them to you. Everyone lies for reasons that make sense at the time. And sometimes these stories roll wildly out of control. I’ve had clergy admit that they stopped believing in God but still preach because they need the work. I’ve had people admit they accused people of horrible things that were not true, even though those accusations ruined the person’s life. I’ve had a grown man crying in front of me because he was so lonely after his wife left him that he kicked their beloved dog when the animal wanted to leave the room. He was just so hurt that the dog didn’t want to love him when he needed it so badly. After that,he organized everything in his life around the needs of the dog all in an effort to alleviate his guilt.
People are logical once you know what the details and the values in their psyche are. But because we don’t know either the details or the values, we can only guess if what they are presenting is accurate. And as the examples above indicate, that includes the people closest to us, and even if they sincerely love us dearly. Life is much more complex than the movies make it seem.
So how can we live? By surrendering. By accepting our inability to know. By living in the mystery rather than desiring certainty. Because that permits a certain kind of clarity. It’s why I can hear both sides of the debate about the radio host and I know that almost every theory I hear could be true. And I also know they could not be true. So rather than having a useless opinion about the subject, I prefer to do what I can to inject the world with some love and positivity and I leave the rest to the universe. Because I cannot do anything about what did or didn’t happen. But I can choose to invest myself in sweeping in front of my own door, and in doing so I can hopefully inspire others to do likewise. And if we all do that the whole world may not be perfect, but it will be better.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.