Monday, August 24, 2015

Bringing Compassion (Ashley Madison)

In June of 2015, a breach of security happened with a company called "Ashley Madison" - a purveyor of cheating spouses, secrets, and probably a lot of illicit behavior.  Under request of someone I know, I obtained the data from that event, trying to run a little bit of profiling.  The data (compressed) occupied over 10Gb.  That is a lot of data.  It expanded to about 20Gb.  That is a ton of data.  When I imported into a temporary database, it expanded to around 45Gb of data.  Yes, 45Gb of damning, dark data.

Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to do some statistics on it.  So, I tried running a few numbers.  In the process of running a few numbers, I accidentally forgot to pipe the data through the counting mechanism on a single command (I did not make that same mistake again), and it started dumping names to the screen.  As I frantically smacked "CTRL-C" over and over and over in an attempt to cancel that, I was unfortunate enough to witness a few names scroll past.  These were people that I knew.  These were people that I had full respect for one week ago.

That happened two days ago.

I cannot get that out of my head.  As much as I'd like to say that I am not judging, deep down I can just feel the results of their heavy falls from the pedestals on which I had placed them.  The reverberations of simply knowing someone elses sin can lead to two reactions:

  • Throw stones at them (stones could be ridicule, insult, or even turning away from them)
  • Give them a little room and allow them to try and pick up the pieces of their lives

Now, what do you do when you know this?  How do you react?  The age old question, what would Jesus do?  It brought to my mind the incident of the Savior, when the woman that was caught in adultery was brought to him.  There were two teachings that came about when this occurred:

  • No one is without sin, so be careful about casting the first stone
  • If you are the one caught in it, stop doing it.

So, how should we be reacting?  Do you want to be the first to cast stones?  Or even the last?  I grew up at dear old Davis High School.  I hated high school.  I was an outcast.  I know what an outcast feels like.  I have been there.  I have experienced it.

Here are some numbers.  In Kaysville, Utah (population of 28,000), there were 932 credit card transactions.  Of those, there were 140 people caught up in that in the city.  In Centerville, Utah (population 16,600), there were over 900 people caught in the data leak.  In Bountiful, Utah (population 43,000),  there were over 1200 people caught in that.  That is well over 2 thousand people that many call neighbors, friends, or family that fell victim to the desires that should be kept between husband and wife.  That is the fall of Helaman's 2000 stripling warriors.

As these people begin to pick up the pieces of their lives that have just crumbled to the ground in a big pile of crap, please take time to do a few things :

  • Give them a chance to change.  The Savior did that very thing so many times.
  • Remember that they are now fighting a battle that we have never even imagined.  It is resulting in life-ending suicides, divorces (and future divorces), and shattering of everything they have ever known.
  • Please bring compassion to the table.  They are going to need as much compassion as they can get.
I am personally grateful that I know the Savior's atonement applies to everyone, including those caught in the Ashley Madison leak.  We need to remember that at the judgement of God, our own "Ashley Madison" data leaks will occur.  Even now, every bad thing we have done is already known.  We cannot hide that fact.  It all comes out in the end.

So be kind.  They get to experience a little of that judgement earlier than we will.  And we will experience it.

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