Dear Tell All: In your response to Summer Lovin', you did not ask him why he, a married father, was drinking, dancing, "cutting loose" and making out behind a tree with a student teacher ("School for Scandal," 8/19/2011). Because of this, you missed the correct diagnosis of the problem. Summer Lovin' is afflicted with Character Deficit Disorder, or CDD.
The symptoms of CDD include atrophy of the spine, blurred vision and impaired judgment. A man of character does what is right because it is right, no matter who is present. He protects his marriage and family by his behavior, earning their confidence and respect. Character helps to keep a man married, employed and out of trouble. It is the rudder that directs his life.
If Summer Lovin' chooses to reverse his CDD, he must begin exercising: exercising honesty, self-control, loyalty and accountability. Through regular exercise of character, his vision will clear, his judgment will improve, and he will have a spine again. It may not be too late to save his marriage and to prevent the spread of CDD to his son, who is watching, and is learning from his example.
Man of Character in Training
Dear Man: All excellent points. "Character" is a funny thing, though. Some people seem to be born with oodles of it, a few lack it, and most of us are born with enough to get us started and a will to grow what we've got. In my experience, growing in character doesn't happen in a linear fashion - i.e., set goal, achieve goal, and so forth. More often it's a situation like Summer Lovin's that reveals, painfully, a dark and rocky crevasse where we thought we stood on solid ground. It's only after we've fallen that we see how far we have to climb.
So I think your judgment, while logical, doesn't move far enough toward empathy, and the reality that some of us have to step in the shit before we know to scrape our shoes.