By Ruth Lubembe
Kenya: Watching Woman Representative Rachel Shebesh preside over the Marriage Matrimonial Property Bill 2013 earlier in the week aroused some admiration in me.
Here was a woman going about important business of the august House vigorously and professionally, belying the unsavoury issue that dogged her life not too long ago when, courtesy of various media platforms, she was alleged to have been involved in an illicit affair.
As Kenyans ogled over photos on social media, and shared their varied opinions, the ‘real’ issues came to light and a few wise sayings popped up, including “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” and “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”
You see, while some people find the very idea of cheating on a spouse absolutely repulsive, the same people may not think twice about evading tax. Or battering their partners.
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Or walking out of the supermarket knowing that the cashier accidentally gave them too much change. Or forging a signature. Or cooking the accounts books. Or selling drugs to minors… the list is endless. The only reason the alleged affair was such big news was because it pointed at well known personalities with abrasive personalities that have more than once landed them in controversial, not to mention embarrassing situations. But there are many other people proven to have been involved in illicit love affairs, but they don’t all make the news.
It is not that I condone affairs — adultery has the potential to cause untold damage to many people. But so does any other vice — which is why I wondered why Kenyans allowed themselves to get so caught up in this one incident, even rushing to take a peek at the images displayed on the Internet (that in itself is a vice!). Is it because when we highlight other people’s shortcomings, we hope to minimise our own?
It is unfair that the woman’s reputation was dragged through the mud while the man just came across as a naughty boy caught with his fingers in the cookie jar. No doubt he continues to strut his bejewelled self around the city as he goes about his legislative duties, while she felt the need to resign from a number of positions she held owing to “negative publicity”.
Ironically, the man’s wife very likely had to hang her head in shame even though she was an injured party in all this. Unfortunately, that’s just the way society works. The Bible records a somewhat similar situation. A woman was caught “in the act of adultery”.
The religious leaders of the day wanted to know where a controversial rabbi by the name Jesus stood on the matter, because the law was very clear about such a case — death by stoning for anyone caught committing adultery.
The religious leaders (all men, by the way) had dragged the hapless woman before Jesus and challenged Him to pronounce a verdict. Interestingly, the man she was caught in the act with was nowhere in sight!
The rabbi called Jesus did not say a word; instead He began to scribble something in the soil with His finger. The leaders badgered Him for a response, wanting to know if He would deviate from the written law of the land so they then could accuse Him of breaking it. Instead, He straightened up and said quietly and calmly, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
One by one the leaders, who just a moment before were baying for blood, slunk away, the older ones first — no doubt because they had lived long enough to accumulate a whole raft of sins! The rabbi’s words had touched each one into realising they were not perfect and so should not have been so quick to condemn another person.
Which is why we should stop casting stones at these two politicians — they did a pretty good job of that themselves anyway, and have a lot of work to do to restore public confidence in themselves no matter how much they tried to brush off the “evidence” as “fabricated”. But there’s another reason why we should stop the condemnation already – think of the families that have been dragged into this mess – whether it is alleged or real — against their will.
And lastly, look inwards – are you the perfect one? It is said that whenever you point an accusing finger at another person, you are actually pointing three others at yourself.
The Bible puts it another way: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
The writer is Revise Editor at The Standard.