Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
Whatever happened to shame? It wasn’t that long ago that a politician tainted by a sex scandal or caught cheating on a spouse was finished in public life. But a couple of political comebacks this year illustrate how things have changed. Two years after he resigned from Congress for sending a sexually suggestive picture of himself to a follower on Twitter, Anthony Weiner is in contention for mayor of New York City. Eliot Spitzer abandoned the state’s governor’s race in 2008 in disgrace following reports he frequented high-end prostitutes. He could be the city’s next controller.
And they’re not alone. Mark Sanford was elected to Congress in South Carolina after admitting an affair in 2009. David Vitter overcame scandal when his name showed up on the customer list of the “D.C. Madam” in 1999, winning reelection to the Senate and is at the top of the GOP list to be the next governor of Louisiana. And Bill Clinton, despite the White House intern scandal, is more popular than ever.
What’s happened? What does it say about the culture that behavior once considered inappropriate or indecent, doesn’t pack the same punch it once did. Are we more understanding, more willing to forgive? Or have we just become indifferent? In politics and religion, no narrative is more powerful than the backslider redeemed. But there’s another tradition in politics: we hold the leaders we elect to office to certain standards and believe that failure to meet those standards has consequences.
Here’s this week’s question: What do recent political comebacks by scandal-tarred politicians say about our culture? Have we become more tolerant and forgiving or grown more callous and indifferent
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
In the past, duty was of importance. Duty means acting in such a way that is helpful to everyone. By the influence of time, people have become more and more selfish and therefore concepts such as duty cannot even be conceived of by the common man. Selfish life has now become the norm.
The ancient Mahābhārata describes that in the days of yore, political leaders would gladly give up their life rather than go against their vows. For this reason and others the citizens experienced a parental relationship between the leaders and themselves. A genuine feeling of care.
The more we connect with Krishna, God (God has many names), the more we feel satisfied. Thus the propensity of selfishness gradually recedes. This connection can easily by established by calling on God’s holy names such as Hare Krishna.
A leader with selfless standards inspires their citizens with the greatness of selfless love.