Monday, April 10, 2006

Life Lessons from the Holt Affair

Much has been said about the Rachel Holt affair. Bloggers have been having a field day, as have their commenters. I myself entered the fray on a couple of occasions when I felt I had something pertinent to say. What more is there?

While it goes without saying that I feel bad for the boy and his family (and I've said so in comments elsewhere), it occurs to me that there are other people who have been greatly hurt by this crime, namely, Rachel Holt's family.

Rachel Holt has a mother and father. These are people who poured their lives into her. They paid for her to get a private education out of love. They helped support her through college and graduate school at Wilmington College out of love. They paid for a wedding for their daughter out of love. No doubt they felt that natural sense of pride that parents feel as their daughter achieved good grades and other successes.

But last week, as the news broke of her involvement in a crime, especially with such very publicly known details and coarse comments, I'm sure their hearts were rent in two. How can a parent process such a revelation, that their beloved daughter had behaved so despicably? To have to see your beloved child behind bars and to know that she is going away for a long, long time...well, I cannot even think of word to describe such anguish.

All of which leads me to my point. Whenever we choose to go our own way (sin), we are behaving selfishly. I get so tired of hearing that "my behavior is my business". We're connected, and when we act, our actions affect others. None of us lives in a vacuum. Ms. Holt is an extreme example of this principle, but I think that if we thought more about the impact that our choices have upon others instead of focusing on our own pleasures and immediate needs, there would be a lot less pain in the world.

Another concept which I think has been fleshed out in the Holt affair is that we can choose our attitudes and our behaviors, but not our consequences. Ms. Holt at some point decided to see her students as her peers. She also at some point began to feel sexual attraction to at least one of her students and to entertain such notions. The time to have taken charge of the situation was in this attitudinal phase. None of us can completely control the ideas that pop unannounced into our heads, but we don't need to invite those thoughts to sit down and visit awhile. Maybe they seem like friendly, entertaining, harmless sorts at first, but thoughts can be insidious things. Before we know it, they have planted themselves in our lives and begun to wreak havoc. They push us toward behaviors that we never would have chosen if we had not befriended them in the first place.

Still, it's not too late. While conscience has been muffled during the seductive phase of the thought process, it still endeavors to get our attention. "No, no!" it shouts. While it may be difficult to hear it clearly, we would do well to un-gag it and listen to its pleadings. Unfortunately, by this time, many of us have become so enchanted by our attitudes that we refuse to listen. And then we act. Ah, "the pleasures of sin for a season". For Ms. Holt, that week of passion must have seemed quite fulfilling at the time. And for many of us, this season can continue for quite a while, bringing pleasure, with consequences no where in sight.

But eventually, pay we must. Ms. Holt never would have chosen the consequences she has and is about to receive- public humiliation of herself and her family, years behind bars, loss of career and prestige. She probably wouldn't even have wanted to cause psychological damage to her victim or pain to his family. Nevertheless, the consequences are not hers to choose. She has no say. If she had chosen differently in the attitudinal phase and recognized those thoughts for the deceivers they were, she would not be in the position in which she finds herself today. If she had even sought help when she felt driven to act on her attitudes, just before the behavioral phase, she would not be where she is today. It would have been far more difficult, once passions had been aroused, but with help, it might have been doable. But she chose attitudes, and she chose behavior, and now she must accept consequences.

We would do well, I believe, to let Ms. Holt serve as a horrible warning to us. Guard your heart and your mind. Attitudes lead to behavior which leads to consequences. And since we don't live in a vacuum, our behaviors may have deleterious effects not only for ourselves, but for innocent bystanders and our loved ones. Don't let this happen to you.


At 4/10/2006 8:37 AM, Blogger Dillet said...

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