05/16/2013 02:27 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2013

The Military and the Catholic Church Share a Moment in Time

Is it just me or do the revelations that the military's sexual predatory behavior is even more egregious than it seemed a few weeks ago (and even then it was egregious) make one think we have witnessed this movie before? It is a musty reel, with sloppy sound, and hazy images, and it arises within the folds of the Catholic Church's ongoing pedophilia scandals. Just today we learned that the military is fighting tooth and nail to resist Senator K. Gillibrand's request that the military forego its usual command structure so that sexual abuse victims can report the alleged crimes to an independent investigator (although it seems as if Sec. of Defense Hagel may finally have to cave on this request).

This recalcitrance on the part of institutions in power to relinquish even a bit of that power is almost a law of nature, isn't it? As we speak, the police chief of NY Ray Kelly is resisting requests to have an agency provide oversight to the police department, and of course, it took years, no, decades, for the officials in the Catholic Church to agree to turn over their pedophiles to the criminal justice system instead of their common stance to 'treat these matters in house.' The military now states that it will review its policies and retrain its sexual abuse counselors/agents.

However, we have an institution in which the posturing of machismo is so ingrained and in which power, aggression, and sexual braggadocio are so deeply entwined that the question one must ponder is, "Exactly what is this sensitivity retraining supposed to do?" We have learned that one man working in the sexual abuse office was trying to pimp at least one woman as a prostitute, and if this isn't a case of the foxes (reverse pun, I admit) guarding the chicken coop than I don't know what is. It is so strikingly similar to priests 'taking care' of children on camping trips and doing everything but, that we merely have to replace the cassocks of the priests with the rations and gear of the soldiers to find the pattern is a stark match.

It is as if we are trapped in some sort of nightmarish version of Nietzsche's 'Law of Eternal Recurrence' but instead of the universe recurring in its myriad perturbations, it is the sexual abuse and the degradation of individuals that play out again and again in hierarchical bastions of power and privilege. Thus we are left to wonder to what extent these actions are the result of men withhout conscience and to what extent the outcomes are driven by large, pathetic, unwieldly instititions or some combination thereof? No easy answers here, and I'm afraid none will be forthcoming in the forseeable future whether Nietzsche was right about the universe or not.