In the wake of Blagojevich's arrest, many Americans are left wondering once again how intelligent people can do such stupid things -- especially when they've achieved the pinnacle of power.Read the whole thing. He closes in this way:
The answer comes down to pride.
I now realize that every human being has an infinite capacity for self-rationalization and self-delusion. Those who serve in public life are faced with enormous peer pressure and don't always take time to stop and think carefully about what they're doing.
Sometimes -- absorbed in accumulating political power -- they're not interested in stopping to think. But as I learned firsthand, self-obsession destroys character. It has to.
Tragically, America is continuing to rear its young to become not only self-obsessed, but obsessed with personal power. Quaint-sounding virtues such as courage, honesty and prudence -- historically considered the elements of character -- are no match for a society in which the exaltation and gratification of self becomes the overriding goal of life.
If Blagojevich is guilty, the best thing that could happen to him is to be tried and convicted. He's going to have to reach rock bottom -- just as I did -- before he will be able to escape his own prison of pride, self-delusion and self-righteousness. But that's a transformation we can never accomplish on our own. I can vouch for the fact that human pride is simply too strong.
Lewis was right: Pride is a spiritual cancer. And the only cure, for any of us, is to stop looking down and to look up. The cure can only be brought about in someone who has come to realize that the will and power to do good and not evil comes from God alone.