Just two and a half years ago, General Michael Flynn stood on the stage at the Republican National Convention and led some 20,000 people (and a good many more at home) in an impromptu chant of “Lock Her Up! Lock Her Up!” about his enemy Hillary Clinton. A few months later, he was swept into the White House with the Trump Administration, finding himself now the National Security Advisor to the most powerful man in the world. It was an incredible second act for a man who had been unceremoniously fired by the previous president and whose sanity many had questioned when he had first signed on with the campaign.
But then, just 24 days into his new job. Flynn was fired once more, in this case for lying to the Vice President about conversations he’d had with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. Soon enough there was a special prosecutor breathing down his neck with criminal charges for lying to the FBI. On December 18th, a grand total of 29 months since his appearance on that stage in Cleveland, Michael Flynn found himself standing before Judge Emmet Sullivan, who had the power to decide whether it was he who would be locked up, and possibly branded as a traitor.
Again, life comes at you fast.
The purpose of today’s email is not to gloat at the fall of Michael Flynn, a man who in a previous lifetime served his country honorably, but to ring the reminder that all tragedies are supposed to ring: That our fates are always uncertain and that hubris only makes them more precarious.
It was ambition of the kind that Flynn had–the desire to get ahead, or to get even, at all costs–that the Stoics warned against time and time again. Indeed, Seneca’s own life was a cautionary tale that Flynn might have done well to study as he greedily gobbled up consulting and speaking fees from foreign entities, and whose painful dance with power might have served as a deterrent to a man considering entering another controversial administration.
When we take shortcuts, when we fall in with the wrong crowd, when we act in ways we know run contrary to the principles we believe in…we are chipping away at our own security and our own peace of mind. When we attack the flaws in other people and ignore our own (or, use that as a strategy to obscure our own), we are writing the end of our own tragedy.
Life comes at us fast. It is unmerciful and often poetic in the justice that it metes out. Be careful. Be ready. And, more than anything, don’t be your own worst enemy.