William Jefferson Clinton has become an icon in the modern world for self-indulgence and self-preservation. His affair with Monica Lewinsky while serving as President of the United States, the subsequent cover-up, and then the deliberate deception under oath are history. He was brilliant, talented, and unable to say no to himself. His flawed presidency will be studied and analyzed for years to come.
What is most startling about the roaring 90’s and the Clinton White House is the reaction of the people to his escapades. In spite of the feeding frenzy in the media and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress he was not impeached. Why not? Simply put, he was still too popular with the people of America. His soap opera lifestyle was not considered sufficiently deviant to deserve serious censure. Bill Clinton was let off because he was so much like the rest of us. To condemn him we would have had to condemn ourselves. He was a product of popular culture and the icon symbol of how we now think and live.
It would be a mistake to conclude that all this is something new. The truth is Clintonization is just a new way of describing an ancient problem. What God allowed to be played out in headlines before the entire watching world was a timeless parable. It was the human race and the human heart on display.
The single word in English that best describes what is wrong with us is selfishness. This chapter in “Follow Me” is crucial. Everything Jesus taught and did was aimed at saving us from the powerful suction of the misplaced self.
James, the brother of Jesus, did an excellent job of putting words to this heart problem. He describes it as envy and selfish ambition. His verdict? The fights and quarrels among us come from this inner source. All the violence and hatred that challenges the possibilities of peace and healthy community can be traced to the door of our inward-focused selves.