Senators and Secret Children: Can Professional Character and Personal Integrity Be Bifurcated?

The issue of "secret children" is becoming a weekly headline. This week it's former Senator Domenici, last week Representative Cohen. Before that, the passing of Strom Thurmond's daughter, and then there's the reminder from ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as he launched his book tour. Let's not forget the Senator John Edwards scandal. The list goes on. I cannot comprehend how a public servant, or anyone for that matter, can lack such personal accountability. Integrity is like being pregnant: You can't be just a little; you either are or you aren't. Then there is the question of honesty. Cash register honesty is no different than lying by omission. Isn't the moral fiber of a person what defines them? My grandfather used to say, "A man is as good as his word."

Personal accountability is what separates the men from the boys. It is baffling that society can somehow bifurcate professional character from personal integrity. Is a person of integrity considered honest so long as they do their job well, yet their personal choices don't count? If a politician uses campaign funds for personal use, he is prosecuted. If he was responsible for bringing a human being into the world illegitimately and keeps it a secret to protect his career, it's just another scandal. Does that mean a person's identity has less value than money?

I am a secret love child, so my perspective comes from first-hand experience. I wrote about the courage of Strom Thurmond's secret daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams in this Huffington Post blog.

With all the press over the affairs, is anyone considering the subject matter going to the core of a person's identity? A parent denying responsibility for creating another human being by omission negates the value of self for the offspring. That's a strong statement, one whose meaning only those of us who have lived it can fully comprehend.

I wrote a book, Ellen Who, Story of a Secret Love Child, with the intention of omitting the shame around producing children illegitimately. I wanted to share that anything can be overcome successfully. Now that I have gotten to the other side of the betrayal of being a "secret", I dedicated a website with a support forum for all family members involved in this type of deception.