In his November 11, 1942, report on the war to the British House of Commons, Winston Churchill referred to “the soft underbelly of the Axis.” While half the world was intimidated by the powerful blitzkrieg style of Nazi warfare, the perceptive prime minister focused on the other side—the hidden side: the insecurity, the lack of character, the insanity behind the public image of the German dictator. Adolf Hitler may have seemed strong to his adoring public and the goosestepping soldiers who proudly wore their führer’s swastika. But the pudgy, cigar-smoking resident of 10 Downing Street was neither impressed nor frightened. He knew it was only a matter of time before the corruption lurking within exposed the soft underbelly of “Corporal Hitler.”
Mark Twain used another word picture to convey a similar thought: “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”
This dark side can exist for years behind carefully guarded masks.
Most of us remember the Watergate scandal. Like me, many firmly resisted the thought of corruption in the Oval Office till the very end. Such compromise and corruption were unthinkable. As time passed and the truth emerged, however, the soft underbelly of Richard Nixon came to light. Conversations with those who were there at the time and participated in the cover-up and books documenting those events forced me to accept what I once denied.
Life magazine’s feature article on Elvis Presley in June 1990 was yet another reminder of how much difference there can be between image and reality. Appropriately titled “Down at the End of Lonely Street,” the documented account of how the man existed in private toward the end of his life was nothing short of shocking. The handsome, seemingly happy-go-lucky performer, whose smile and wink melted hearts the world over, existed in a nightmare world of depression, despair, and massive doses of drugs.
The lesson in all this is obvious: The safest route to follow is Authenticity Avenue, walled on either side by Accountability and Vulnerability. The alternate route dead-ends at Lonely Street, whose bleak scenery is best stated in a verse from the ancient Book of Numbers: “be sure your sin will find you out” (32:23). Haunting thought, but oh, so true. I cannot explain how or why, I only know that rattling skeletons don’t stay in closets . . . lies don’t remain private . . . affairs don’t stay secret. It’s only a matter of time.
Hidden works of darkness always come to light.
The safest route to follow is Authenticity Avenue, walled on either side by Accountability and Vulnerability.— Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This