Thoughts about People Behaving Badly

Thoughts on People Behaving Badly
                Three years ago this Labor Day, John Drescher, the Senior Editor of the Raleigh News & Observer, called and said he wanted to write a Sunday newspaper column about me and asked specifically if I would be willing to give any personal advice on former Senator John Edwards. I was driving at the time and almost wrecked the car. As politely as I could, I declined his invitation. Mr. Drescher went on to write a column anyway, but it was sort of vanilla, because I did not directly answer his questions as to what John Edwards, or any person who has either fallen from grace or is in the process of doing so, should do.
                Now, three years later, I still resist giving anyone specific advice, unless that person asks, and I can assure you, no one has asked. At the same time, as I have continued, probably like you, to watch public lives and careers implode, I am struck by how often these people do not understand the wisdom of Robert Frost’s great line, that “the best way out is always through”.
                Please understand that I am a late follower of this advice, and indeed if I had personally followed such thoughts sooner in my own life, my career as a lawyer might very well have turned out differently. At the very least, it would not have been any worse.
                1993 was my year of coming out. That is the year when my mistakes and real errors in judgment became public knowledge. While late January of that year saw many newspaper and television stories about me published, I made no public comments. I hunkered down, stayed at home went for long solitary walks, and talked often with my lawyers in Raleigh and psychiatrist in Durham. It took me almost the entire year to fully appreciate and accept the consequences of my own actions, so I know first – hand how difficult that is for anyone.
                The best advice I ever got was made not by any lawyer or psychiatrist, but by Rick Gammon’s paralegal, who told all of us how dumb we were in not telling the entire story immediately and all at once. “Just get it out and do it now” is what she said. “And…tell the truth…all of it”
                Finally, I did that and have always been glad I did. I only wish I had done it sooner. I wish it had not taken me almost the entire year.  Still, I have always believed, and believe today, that it is tough for people to tell the truth, when that truth is adverse to what we want people to know about us, and we do not know the ultimate consequences of that truth telling. But here is the deal. The truth is likely to come out anyway, and it is far better to tell it yourself rather than have someone else do so.
                You should not need a public relations person to tell you what to say. You are the only one who knows the real truth. Telling it just washes everything else away. Sure, there will be consequences, and some of them might not be pleasant. But as surely as night follows day, it is the only way out, and the only way back. You just have to have faith, and as one of my good friends has said, “Faith to let the flower bloom”.

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