“Can you sit today with the mystery moment of who will still love you, warts and all? Can you reveal yourself without the truly self-destructive outburst? And if not, can you forgive yourself and accept that on this day, in these extraordinary times, you allowed grief its moment so that you may allow in something new? That something new may turn out to be forgiveness after all — in its own time.”
For the gaslighter, this is the eternal question. This is the question that the Colonel must answer following the dramatic end of A Few Good Men. Movies do not often allow for the follow-up of the unmasked villain, and if they do, he tends to reemerge unchanged and vengeful. This is how drama perpetuates the notion of good vs evil. This is the way we collectively perpetuate oversimplifications of the human experience. We don’t even ask if the Colonel can be forgiven, much less ponder whether he will forgive himself.
The Colonel was provided a new beginning with the revelations that he was not the person he pretended to be. He was allowed at this time to live life authentically, which is a gift many of us never feel granted. It’s a gift that requires humility however — an asset not everyone possesses.
Maintaining humility while holding a position of power is almost antithetical to some paradigms that continue to be perpetuated with regards to how we view people in authority. We need to change this view. We need to embrace the humanity of those we trust to manage, advise, and protect us. They are not the inflated super heroes we have made them to be. We do them a disservice by not embracing this reality. We do ourselves a disservice in this regard as well, because these impossible standards turn inward the more we begin to feel responsible for others in our lives.
We need to come down to earth so that our authority figures may come down to earth with us. The onus is on us to demand integrity, but to accept the truth when we receive it. Being honest with ourselves is where it starts. If we can’t face our own truths without anger or shame, how can we expect those in authority to do the same?
We can’t make a better world without making ourselves better. This is the paradox that continues to perpetuate suffering in the world. As we continue to look outside ourselves for salvation, it will remain elusive. We will find ourselves perpetually disappointed with others and ourselves most of all. Nothing will ever measure up for long and we will eventually view ourselves and those we project our internal struggles onto as irredeemably inadequate. The moment we accept that we are own authority we are free, and the chains of perfection can fall for those around us scrambling with quiet desperation to uphold their obligatory yet false personas in this gaslit society. The key is forgiveness. Forgive yourself for your humanity so that others can be human too.