Since the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Maria Shriver story broke a couple of days ago, and I’ve watched it become the leading news story on both the internet and tv newscasts, I’ve started wondering why I am and obviously lots of other people are so interested in these kinds of stories. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve wanted to check on this story upon awaking in the a.m. even as I get my sons off to school. I clean up, dress, run downstairs and turn the kitchen tv on while I’m making breakfast. Actually, this is my usual routine, but for the past two mornings, I would have to admit I have I rushed around a bit more than usual with the intent of getting the tv on so I could hear Matt and Meredith open the Today show and wouldn’t miss any possible new breaking news about Arnold’s indiscretion. Furthermore I call myself a Christian, but why am I not rushing downstairs to do my morning Bible study FIRST and waiting to turn on the tv for the scoop after that? What does that say about me??? And do I even want to explore the answer???? Yes, I do. I think.
The story is amazing. In this age of media intrusion, you would think that someone who apparently is intelligent enough to get voted in twice as the governor of a very high-profile state, AND is such an “in-our-faces” public figure would have enough common sense not to get himself into such a personal mess, especially when he’s married to a very respected and admired woman. So I think one reason I watch this kind of news is that it’s so unbelievable that some people are so stupid. When people have such seemingly perfect lives, and then we find out that they’re just as messed up as a lot of other families then we want to know. Sort of.
Public officials behaving badly are always interesting to me. And not in a good way. I think it’s very tragic to the voters who’ve voted these people into office to find out later they’ve been lied to or misled about what kind of person they’re voting for and I want to hear what they have to say for themselves. Granted, I don’t think Arnold actually said during his campaigns anything like “I have not fathered any other children”, and he did admit he had “behaved badly” when it came to women in the past, but it’s fairly appalling that a man would let his wife get up in front of people and defend him like Maria did about his supposed bad behaviour during the campaigns. Didn’t anything in those “gracious bones” in his body compel him to ever want to interrupt her and say, “Uh, wait a minute; I’m not THAT great of a person; in fact . . .” . These days, finding out bad things about politicians is becoming so commonplace, I would rather they just say, “I’m the best person to lead this state, or country or whatever because of these reasons, but you might not like some of the following things I’ve done in my personal life . . .” and be upfront about their stuffage and THEN let us decide if we want to vote for them.
But am I being judgemental, even in the teensiest way and is that partly why I’m watching it? I wish I could say no, but the more honest answer would probably be yes. And there’s the rub. And I don’t like that about myself. Who am I to judge someone else’s behaviour when I’m no saint and certainly wouldn’t want all the bad things I’ve done (and there are more than a few) broadcasted all over the news outlets. The good news is that I don’t watch these kinds of stories because I delight in other people’s misery. I genuinely feel bad for this family and I don’t even know them except from tv and magazines! And thankfully, after a couple of days I feel like a voyeur looking in on someone else’s personal life and it doesn’t feel good. And eventually it just feels like I’m participating in listening to gossip – but on a national level and that even feels worse. And so I move on and pray that I continue to grow as a person AND a Christian and hope eventually I will not waste time in the future watching tragic personal news about people that is really none of my business. And I will continue to fantasize that someday in the future there will be a time when no one will want to buy gossip magazines and they’ll all be put out of business. Except maybe for People magazine, which seems okay, don’t you think??