Just a couple of comments about the hearings yesterday when Michael Cohen appeared before the senate committee once again. Yesterday was the only day when the public could listen and watch. I was on the go but I watched it in the morning on TV and whenever I was in my car after that. Anyone who listened probably could memorize the Republican questions. They basically said one thing, “You are an admitted liar. You are going to prison for lying. Once a liar always a liar. Therefore you are lying now and we should not believe a thing you say.”
I suppose there is something to that. except that I know that “Once a liar always a liar” is a lie in itself. Anyone who is in a recovery program will tell you that liars can indeed become non-liars. Around the tables of AA or NA, you will hear stories of men and women whose whole lives were a lie in which they spoke lie after lie, usually to keep their stash in tact or to keep family and employers off their backs. Once they came to the truth, not only did they change, but those who stayed sober often turned into the most honest of people. Anyone who has had or witnessed a spiritual conversion knows this as well. People are capable of change. In fact, I would say change is inevitable. Change goes with maturing. One could say Cohen’s mind before was that of a seven-year-old until he faced some fierce consequences that shook him to the core. In recovery programs that is called “hitting bottom”.
The second comment I want to make is that there is an assumption that a person who lies about one thing will lie about everything else. In a court of law, this is why statements made by witnesses have to be corroborated. That is, there need to be other things that point to the truth or non truth of what a witness is saying. These could include phone calls, texts, e-mails, bank statements, travel or hospital records, other witnesses, DNA tests – the list goes on. Cohen had documents with him and he named individuals who he said could prove the truth of what he was telling the committee. I don’t know whether the committee will follow through on these to find out if they are legit. This was done by the courts who already dealt with Cohen and will continue in the State of New York.
One more observation. I have thought a lot about what judgment means. I try to call it out when I see it. Judgment means getting into the intent of another person, into their thoughts and motives. We don’t yet have the scientific capacity to figure out what a person is actually thinking. The world of our thoughts remains a secret place. There are tools, such as a lie detector, but these don’t see thoughts, they just measure bodily activity. They are based on the assumption that people have physical reactions when they know they are lying.
Judgment looks like this: “You don’t care about me.” That is a judgment because it speaks to what is going on in a person’s mind. A non-judgmental statement has to do with actions or words. “You didn’t give me a gift for my birthday.” Judgmental: “You only cleaned the house to get something out of me.” A non-judgmental statement is “You cleaned the house.” Here is another one, “Your motive is to get a book deal that will make your rich”. A non-judgmental statement is: “You made a deal with a publisher.”
God only knows what comes next. There was one highlight of the hearings yesterday that I almost missed, but someone posted on Facebook. It was the closing remarks by Representative Elijah Cummins, the moderator of the hearings. First he spoke amazing truth to Cohen about the choices he’d made and how it harmed his family and his country. Then he appealed for a return to normalcy in America where people can disagree without demonizing one another and where rhetoric is respectful. “We are better than this,” he said. I yearn for such a day.