Armstrong Williams
When I first heard the news concerning the recent arrest of Claude Allen, a high profile former adviser to the President, I was shocked. Claude Allen held a position of great power, and had real influence to shape policies that affected all American lives. Allen was a member of Washington’s inner elite, a man who moved in the highest circles of power. He was a man who, early on, made his mark in America’s greatest institutions, including Duke Law School, the Department of Health and Human Services, and ultimately, the White House itself. Allen was a much sought after speaker, a man whose time was in great demand by those who were interested in his power and his story.

Now that story has taken a turn. Allen threw all of this away for the thrill of allegedly stealing a few thousand dollars from a retail store; sometimes stealing items worth as little as two dollars and fifty cents. Allen’s actions are sad, indefensible, and humiliating not only for him and his family, but also to those that invested in him their unconditional trust. Allen’s friends found it difficult to defend his behavior. Indeed, his behavior cannot be defended. When one thinks of the devastating impact on Allen’s family, especially his four children, his actions seem all the more reprehensible.

What then, is the duty of a friend? Do we join the chorus of those denouncing Allen? Do we sever all ties? Now that he is alone, facing his own conscience as well as public and legal judgment; do we leave him alone to deal with this crisis himself?

I think not.

Obviously Mr. Allen’s behavior did not start when he became a member of the President’s senior staff. Allen has probably been wrestling with this much of his adult life. Yet even those closest to Allen would have probably never known the demons that he constantly wrestled. Now that his demons have become manifest, we, as friends, must decide what to do.

Disappointment is natural, and abandonment is tempting. Yet I believe that we are called to do more. In Proverbs we read that “a friend loveth at all times and sticketh closer than a brother.” At all times.

Although many are deeply disappointed, it is equally disappointing for friends to abandon one another during life’s most difficult times. None of us are without fault. If being faultless were the criteria for friendship, none of us would have friends. I think, in fact, that it will be the support and love of family and friends that will be essential to Allen if he is to recognize the damage he has done, make amends, and seek to build a better life.

Armstrong Williams

Armstrong Williams is a widely-syndicated columnist, CEO of the Graham Williams Group, and hosts the Armstrong Williams Show. He is the author of Reawakening Virtues.
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