People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
— Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


Our Light and Darkness

This past week I was victim of a very elaborate hacking of my computer.  Not only were they able to hack my computer, but my camera as well.  He claimed that he created a video of me supposedly watching a porn site.  He wanted money or they were going to send the video to all my contacts.  I thought to myself, “How could something like this be true?  Why would someone want to do this?”  Because man has both the capacity for great light (goodness), and for darkness (destruction).  The next several dozen thoughts were a progression.

There was the initial horror of what his email said, but my biggest concern was for my friends, family, professional contacts.  How would they react without any context?

I thought about the number of times I have written about leaders who have fallen as a result of a choice or choices.  What I also realized was that some of those who have fallen were taken down by the ‘impression’ that was created rather than all the facts.  Then I reflected on my own situation.  While it doesn’t rise to the level of Jerry Sandusky or Bill Cosby, it has the capacity of doing damage.

I thought back to the ‘lessons’ about the paradox of man’s light and his darkness taught to me by my friend Richard.  And finally, I thought of my own journey.  It wasn’t until I was able to accept my own darkness, my own flaws, that I learned to understand the power of my light. The willingness to ‘own’ my darkness took many years.

Through that journey I have become a little less self-righteous, understanding, as my grandmother would say, “Here but by the grace of God go I.”  Oh, I could look at the case of Joe Paterno, and say “That would never happen on my watch.”  And, then I would reflect, and say “Are you sure?”

What I came to understand in my ‘flawedness’ is that while circumstances may not be the same that in my darkness, in the worst version of me, I was certainly capable of some awful things.

My sense is that most of us have a version of ourselves that we like to think we are.  The bright, shiny, looks good in public version.  I think that is what most of us strive to be.  But, there are those moments when we are tested, and we may be surprised to find that we don’t always measure up to that version.  In the humility of whatever moment, we come to understand more about how we can be, and it’s not who we want to be.

What I have also come to know on my journey, is that for the largest majority of us, we are not our darkness.  A moment, or moments does not have to define us.  It can teach us about redemption and forgiveness, and to move back toward the light.

Back to my current situation.  I have no idea what action this individual will take in terms of distributing a video.  In short order I may be dealing with something that is horrific because I’m not willing to be extorted.  I know whatever was created was done to create an impression and extort money.  If the worst comes to pass I rely on the body of my work (who I am) to speak the loudest.

My major motivation in writing this is to not only share what can happen, but to also encourage those of us who experience, or have experienced, their darkness to reassure ourselves that we are not our darkness and for all of us to practice more forgiveness and restoration in our lives.

To a better you…