What Does Hollywood Hoopla Have To Do With Me?

There is a great deal going on in the entertainment news, involving talented people we never imagined would do what they apparently did.
Consider the (partial) lyrics to the following song.


I knew a man who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry,
It was drawing near
Behind his house a secret place
Was the shadow of the demon
He could never face
He built a wall of steel and flame
And men with guns to keep it tame
Then standing back he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
But the fear and the fire and the guns remain
It doesn’t matter now it’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came round I heard
It slowly sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
And then one day the neighbors came
They were curious to know about the smoke and flame
They stood around outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all
“My friends, ” he said, “We’ve reached our goal
The threat is under firm control
As long as peace and order reign
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain
Why the fear and the fire and the guns remain.”
It doesn’t matter now it’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came round I heard
It slowly sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping.
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping
Say ah, say ah, say ah
Say ah, say ah, say ah…
Songwriters: Daniel Heymann / Thomas Fox / Ian Cohen / Peter Cohen


There is something crushingly beautiful about the song and the way it’s sung (Josh Groban) even though it unveils a story of suppression, over looking, and hiding big problems using force.

The song is brilliant, in fact.


Because it never once points the finger at me.

Instead, the lyrics tell the story of a nameless stranger, which allows me (in the privacy of my own mind) to casually consider the story for any value it might offer me.

The song tells me about a man I don’t know, who successfully covers up a secret — one that, as it turns out, is not roaring, but weeping. As time goes on, the man sincerely believes (or perhaps fervently hopes) he’s made the problem go to sleep, so why talk about it? He keeps the fire and guns of protection, though, just in case.


Is the weeping from the man himself? Is his grieving self “the shadow of the demon” he could never face? Is he the victim, and he can’t speak about what happened to him because it’s too traumatic?
Or is the weeping from his victims, whom we never meet and are shielded forever from view?
Or is the weeping coming from those of us who have experienced what this man is feeling? Is the weeping from the collective consciousness of all of us who’ve ever felt the desperation of something we prefer not to face?
Clearly, the song has done its job. I am inquiring within.


Because no one is pointing a finger at me on this trail of self-inquiry, I have the freedom to ask myself if I’ve done what this man did. Have I tried to cover up the roaring or the weeping?
Well, as a matter of fact, yes, I have. I would venture to say that anyone alive has done this somewhere along the trail of life.
At some point, we did what this man did. We covered up something we didn’t want to admit, or face, or allow to be visible to others. We pretended, ignored, built strong walls and bulletproof protection. We didn’t speak about the thing behind the curtain, what’s buried behind the barn.
But luckily, as I said before, I am able to consider the story of this man from afar, in the comfort of my living room.


Which is also the luxury we have when Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey land in the news. We have the luxury of thinking about the problem — over there in those men.

The thing is, these men have a song, too, and their song is an invitation to look a little more closely at our own lives and communities.

Is there something I need to speak up about? Is there something going on in my own community that I’ve been ignoring?

Take, for example, the approximately 400,000 women (mostly immigrants) who work in agriculture and face sexual harassment and rape in the field every day on the job. The women are afraid to complain for fear of losing a way to support themselves and their families. The basic and raw truth is that the Hollywood actresses who didn’t speak up about sexual harassment (or worse) for fear of being banned from the industry and these immigrant women have quite a bit in common.

What’s happening in the news is an out-picturing of society as a whole.
It would have to be.
Where else could an unresolved issue (within ourselves, our family, our workplace, or our circle) go besides out into the light? How else would something important yet undone get the attention needed to evolve and undergo radical change?
It would need to happen “out there” so that we realize the issue is in our own backyard.
Think about history for a moment. This wake up call, this “out into the light” phenomenon also happened in the auto-safety industry when lawyer Ralph Nader published “Unsafe At Any Speed” in 1965. He spoke up, and his whistle blowing changed the auto industry.
According to Ralph Nader, annual styling changes (chrome decoration and other trivial changes) took precedence over investment in engineering safety, fuel efficiency and pollution control. He accused car manufacturers of ignoring existing technology designed to save lives. His research showed that auto makers resisted the introduction of safety features such as seat belts and collapsible steering columns, which have since saved thousands of lives.
His controversial book hoisted the problem of auto safety smack into the light and over the next 50 years, things did change.


There’s something I did personally as a result of the Hollywood hoopla. I wrote a letter to someone I haven’t seen or spoken to since 1971. I’ve had his address for years. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting a handwritten note from me and I wondered if he’d be willing to speak about an incident after all this time.
In the letter, I asked him to call me and he did. Immediately, in fact.
What occurred yesterday on the phone was the most healing conversation possible. I’ll spare you the details, but I can tell you our conversation lifted the roaring and the weeping into the light and we are both the better for it.
The most stunning part of the conversation for me was the realization that I had never considered any other interpretation of the event, other than the one I knew. I fully experienced that and, seriously, it blew my mind. Because my specialty in a consulting session is to see, explore and represent all sides of a question fairly, the conversation with this man unraveled something I’ve carried for 46 years.
This is what the Harvey’s and Matt’s and Kevin’s of the world will do for others. This is the good that can come from something dark or hidden that comes to the attention of the general public. And no, this doesn’t excuse those men, and it doesn’t make them heroes. Instead, they serve as a wake up call for the rest of humanity, plain and simple.
The actions of these Hollywood men prompted me to rise up and write a letter asking for a healing conversation in my own world and I learned a great deal on that phone call.
This is how public wrongs have the potential to cause a wave of decency, love and respect. They can cause a waking up, an opening of hearts and minds. Wrongs can bring issues to light, and make them right.

In Care of Relationships, Josh Groban, Terri Crosby, weeping

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