When I first heard John Mayer sing "Your Body is a Wonderland", I , like most other warm blooded females, felt my heart, my brain and my nethers sing in tingly harmony. I mean, the man is celebrating his beloved and her body and their lurve discovery in a sensitive, woman-centered song. What's not to like?
Then came the interviews where he spewed sexist, racist, homophobic crap and I basically can't listen to any of his songs anymore.
"If you want love, we'll make it" now sounds less like a loving invitation and more and more like an lecherous imperative.
I know we are all multi-faceted creatures, capable of a stunning combination of positive and negative behavior. But what do we do with someone who, let's say, produces great art but is a raging asshole in the rest of his life? How do we reconcile the beauty in someone with the "My dick is sort of like a white supremacist" beast? Does one cancel the other out?
I'm currently having this problem as I read a particularly helpful book. It is filled with information about the ways that children learn and how we can help them capitalize on their particular set of strengths and manage their particular set of weaknesses. After reading many books that jump into the alphabet soup of labels, it's been a welcome revelation to read this view: that while we all have weaknesses, only some get labeled, only some will show up in school. Our job, as parents and teachers, is to help our kids understand how their own unique mind works and find a life path for which they are well suited.
This book was recommended to me by a dear friend who works with learning disabled kids as The One to read, though she warned me of its author's issues first. I've begun making a mental list of the friends who might benefit from its information. As I read, Dr. Levine's tone is warm and engaging, especially as he invites us into his sessions where he celebrates a student's strengths while also helping them manage their weaknesses.
But, also as I read, I cannot get out of my mind that Dr. Levine was charged with sexually abusing over 50 of his former patients and eventually committed suicide in 2011, the day after he was formally charged. Every anecdote, every patient he writes about with such apparent care and wisdom, could be one of the ones who now accuses him of abuse.
I know he was never proven guilty. I know he maintained his innocence, up to and including his suicide note (Why, yes, I did Google his suicide note. Technology for the anxiety-producing win!). But after reading enough reports from the accusers, it seems like an awful lot of smoke to not be coming from a fire.
It is not my job to determine his guilt or innocence. But as I continue to read this book and find more and more wisdom in its pages, I am increasingly sickened that such a person might also be capable of something so horrible.
What are we to do with the message when the messenger is deeply, deeply flawed?