The Pitfalls of Confessional Culture

John Donovan, Master of Castle Argghhh!, links to a pitiful column in online magazine Salon.com, wherein the former wife of a soldier confesses to leaving her husband while he’s on deployment.  Nor can she bear to show up for her son’s induction into the United States Naval Academy.

It would be easy to cast aspersions on the woman’s apparent fecklessness and lack of character.  But despite your correspondent’s generally Christian conception of marriage, I readily accept that some people will choose life partners unwisely, and therefore divorce is unavoidable and even desirable in some cases.

What I can’t conceive of at all is writing a column like that of Ms. Cook.

For while I do not expect that every life should be devoid of misadventure, mishap and misjudgement, I do think it slightly unwise to treat the general public as if they are one’s closest confidant.  While seeking a divorce does not—in and of itself—necessarily provide insight into one’s character, seeking a divorce while one’s spouse is duty-bound several thousand miles away sends a certain message.  As does failing to show up at a landmark event in the life of one’s own offspring.

If I were in a situation where my son or daughter was taking part in a ceremony from a career or institution which I personally found distasteful (say, for the sake of argument, the AVN Awards), I would still make a point of showing up as a mark of respect for my own flesh and blood.  The important thing is not whether I am comfortable or happy about being at such an event (or approve of the career choices involved); the important thing is to honour my offspring by demonstrating love and support for them, at the event that they consider important.

More importantly, had I failed to make such a basic effort for my spouse or my descendants, I don’t I think I would be admitting to it in print.  This is something I would count as a personal shame; a failure of character not to be repeated should another such opportunity arise.  Certainly not something to be recounted for strangers as entertainment.

Ms. Cook probably looks on that column with some pride, recounting a painful journey of the heart under stressful conditions.  I doubt very much if she realises that putting one’s lack of courage and small-mindedness on display for the public actually reduces her stature.

UPDATE 121606Z FEB 10: Reaction across the dextrosphere is, of course, overwhelmingly negative.  Also encouraging, the comments from liberal-minded military spouses (such as those at LeftFace, “the Other MilSpouse Blog”) are not too favourably inclined toward the piece, either.

EQUAL TIME: Ms. Cook offers her perspective on the piece (and the attendant response) at her own blog.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.