Happy Mothers’ Day. . . to Elizabeth and Connie.

Of course, the wish is not just for one day, as I always tell my children and husband. It should be a daily appreciation for who mothers are and what they can put up with! But in this particular season, my special heartfelt encouragement goes to Elizabeth Edwards and Connie Culp. As I’ve listened to and glanced at comments about and to them in these past few weeks, I can only say they deserve a heavy dose of love, encouragement, and sanity from me!
Connie, a symbol of courage for so many, did not have to come out and be seen in the glare of the media. But she did anyway. Mostly, she’s been blessed and thanked for “coming out.” Who would want the world to compare her before and after looks? In this culture that trumps air-brushed looks, that surely was healing bravery. She did it not just for herself, but also for all to see that beauty and courage may mean something different from the typical Hollywood perspective. “Ugly Betty” of ABC fictional fame cannot put anything beside this real life beauty! Yet, as she made pronouncements of forgiveness to her ex-husband who had shot her face to its pre-surgery deformation, many in our Internet and media publics responded with outrage and insensitivity, albeit well-meant and rational. How could she not want to murder the “beast” that did this to her?
Now to Elizabeth Edwards. A different story. As she’s tried to present the story of being betrayed by John, the sympathies have been less forthcoming. Tina Brown of “The Daily Beast” and quite a number of others have torn her apart and upside down. Nothing she’s done in these past few weeks seem to have brought her any loving hugs. Since I didn’t watch either the Oprah Show interview or the full NBC one, I save any direct comments on those. “She brought it on herself,” they say. How could she disparage the mistress when her sneaky husband is to blame? How could she be in such self denial? How could she be trying to sell a memoir even in the midst of such a wanton collapse of everything she’s lived and worked for, and ultimately sell her children short? (No satire intended). And on and on and on. It’s amazing how quickly some people, not all, in this society are so ready to judge, condemn, and sentence. Even some of the people who have tried to defend her ultimately come up with the “dying woman’s last ditch efforts at saving what’s lost.” Well, excuse my ignorance, but I’m yet to see who made some of these harsh commentators coroners, psychiatrists, psychologists, and end-of life professionals all rolled into one!

Can we just give her a break based on her own words, instead of trying to read into all her non-stated motives? At least in the little piece I heard on NBC, she categorically said, “I believed” I was married to a faithful man. And even if she still loves him for all the number of years of joy and love they’ve known together, who are we to tell her to give up on that? The fact that any one of us may not make that same choice does not give us any leverage to castigate her choice. It’s her life, her world, her belief. As far as I can tell, her faith, beliefs, and choices should not impact any of those people trying to hang her upside down. So much for our society that swears by its family values ethics! In a society where the abortion debate (whether in the Pro-life or Pro-choice camps) have been taken to super political levels, the simple message of “forgiveness for forgiveness” sake seems to be either critically missing or highly misunderstood.

Connie Culp and Elizabeth, agree with me or not, show some varying shades of courage. We can appreciate and applaud them for the courage and humility to forgive. It’s a virtue that is self-liberating for oneself as well as for the other. The accountability that is necessary and called for on the part of the perpetrator (John Edwards and Connie’s ex, in these cases) many times is meted out by others beyond the victims. Appropriately so: world opinion, legal systems, and God. In the meantime, Elizabeth and Connie will and should enjoy a peace that passes any understanding in their courageous act to forgive. That peace may not be quickly evident as many of the commentators have said of Elizabeth Edwards. Yet, I encourage her to hold on with dignity and the love she possesses to conquer all the challenges that she’s encountered in this journey of life. From me to you: With much love and empathy, Happy Mothers’ Day!!

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