So Al Gore's a dick, so what?
So Al Gore is a dick. There, I said it and I really don’t care if these recent charges of sexual assault are proven false (like he claims they are). I know it’s not very loving or generous of me to assume guilt in our “innocent until proven guilty” society, but I have no problem believing that a rich, white, southern, male politician is a scum-bag. It kinda comes with the territory. I expect those guys (most guys) to objectify women like that. My worldview isn’t crushed to discover they are dicks.
What I do find incredulous are the number of people who are using this latest Al Gore scandal to “prove” that everything he ever said about global warming must be false. It’s crazy in my opinion, but it’s not like he hasn’t faced such ad hominem arguments before. A few years ago when the energy bills from his Tennessee home were made public, certain people used his wastefulness to tell the world once and for all that all those inconvenient truths weren’t actually true. It’s like the argument that absurd book, Good Intentions, made against Christian environmental actions – it argued that because some environmentalists purchase carbon offsets they are just hypocrites and so therefore global warming doesn’t exist. Sigh. Apparently most of these people missed the day in college when they covered logical fallacies.
Yes, Al Gore is a sucky messenger if not a sucky human being. So what, so are most of us. I published an entire freaking book on living justly in regards to consumer habits, and I rarely make it a week (or a day) without doing the exact opposite of what I advocate in the book. Sure, I feel a twinge of guilt each time I make a beeline for the children’s clearance rack at Old Navy or order a cheeseburger with meat of indiscriminate origin. But in no way do I assume that my (or Al Gore’s) failure to be perfect in any way discredits the truth of our message. Sure we are hypocrites and scum-bags, and don’t set very good examples, but our failings don’t have the power to create a falsehood out of truth.
If being a hypocrite (or general all-around jerk) proved that one’s beliefs are false then Christianity wouldn’t exist in this country. For that matter, most of the good and just things we belief wouldn’t exist. I can wax eloquent online about being an empowered woman who stands up to sexism, but in reality I don’t always have the strength to be that person fully. In truth I am often plagued by self-doubt and confused by the lies fed to me by my culture as to my worth as a woman. Do my struggles make my beliefs about equality and empowerment pointless? Or are they simply part of the process of claiming a belief while still being a fallible human being?
If there wasn’t room for grace in our faith, then who would follow Jesus? No one is capable of loving one’s neighbor, obeying God, denying oneself, and taking up the cross to follow Jesus every moment of every day. As much as I agree with and strive towards those things, I often let myself get in the way. I know when I’m being greedy and selfish and unloving and a jerk, but even as I do those things I cling to the belief that I shouldn’t. That doesn’t excuse me in any way or negate the fact that I am a hypocrite. But neither does the fact that I am a hypocrite negate the validity or goodness of what I believe.
We are quick to crucify the messenger in our society. Granted, some messengers might need to be so treated, or at least removed from their pedestal. Others perhaps could simply use a bit of understanding and grace. But we tread dangerous ground when we are so indiscriminate to throw the baby out with the bathwater – to disengage our minds to the point that we reject truth in our gleeful tar and feathering of its source. If our world is falling apart and being destroyed by our own hands, so what if Al Gore is a dick? If he’s broken the law, treated women as objects, and been a hypocrite he of course needs to be held accountable. But it is our minds clouded with zealous shadenfreude that are proved foolish when we confuse the messenger for the message in such a way. We might all be hypocrites and selfish jerks, but we can do better than that.