Are we modern Pharisees, or just nosey?
Tiger Woods, photo via wikipedia.org
By Angelito Garcia
On the heels of Tiger Woods finalized divorce from his estranged Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, announced jointly by their attorneys in August 23, to the tune of a cool 100–million dollar settlement, the mob–angry press and opportunistic rumor mills – helped along by public outcry – continue to spew venom on this fallen sports hero.
You would think that it was they that Tiger had committed adultery on. Not that they are morally wrong in their shark-like crusade against their former idol. It is the duration, quality and quantity of the venom they rained on him that tasted viler that what they had spewed at Benny Hinn and Jimmy Swaggart – two stalwart religious figures – who disgraced themselves also through adultery. What gives?
Let's backtrack a bit and review the events of the recent past that may shed a backdrop on this shark–feeding frenzy.
Five days removed from Valentine’s Day, it was fascinating theater to watch a contrite Tiger Woods, the celebrated golf hero, re–emerge from his foxhole – sans his beleaguered wife – and issue his first public statement after falling very deeply from a very high international pedestal.
The event took place at a secluded location, where only a handful – some representing mega organizations – were invited.
It lasted 13 minutes and 30 seconds. Excruciating.
Elin, his Swedish wife, still nursing her wounds, was conspicuously absent from the much–hyped press conference.
"I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in," he began.
Well done, Tiger; that was the least expected of you. A little late, but it did happen; that’s OK.
Maybe some media company wrote it up. Who cares? An apology is an apology – whether up–front or belatedly, whether extemporaneously blurted out by himself or crafted up by an articulate, designated saint in behalf of the sinner, it doesn’t really matter now.
Guilt was owned up to and admitted by the real person. Who are we to judge this person’s motives? His exposed actions had already forced him to be judged severely. And, sadly, they excruciated his own wife and children, too.
To place oneself behind a transparent glass that can be pierced by stones, admit a mistake, and apologize for what he did was a positive, first big step in correcting a huge wrong.
Woods must be accepted as a repentant human being, not a filthy rag that we can self–righteously step upon.
How many of the numerous public figures and celebrities, who are well–known for their moral excesses and bizarre behavior, ever stepped up to make a public apology? Too few.
Of those that did apologize, how many have come forth in a public setting and admit their wrongful actions – and issue a public apology that lasted more than 30 seconds? Very few.
In this endangered society and other societies dealing with high divorce rates and pervasive adultery from either gender, forgiveness is a positive first step in helping the fallen striving hard to regain their feet.
America is a country whose citizens could enjoy many second chances. It is what makes the nation strong and resilient.
Of course, it is a little disturbing that celebrities get them more than anybody else.
On the other hand, their private lives become public property, and they are exposed to different forms of danger. As long as everyone gets his second chance – and sometimes a third – it’s acceptably fine for every one else. We hope.
After he finished speaking before this small, pre-chosen group that excluded many of the media – some of whom were either barred from the event or boycotted it – a storm of reactions nationwide immediately followed.
The members of the media issued a mixture of reactions. Some said it was presidential, even combative, and rehearsed. Some said Woods was sincere and believable. Some said he was lying and just doing damage control. Others said it was scripted, controlled, and orchestrated and that he sounded robotic.
Psychology experts chimed in and stated, more or less, the same mixture of thoughts.
One body–language expert even said on ESPN that Woods' lack of hand gestures proved he was lying. He was boring, ineffective, and inauthentic, according to her. It seemed to her the standard theater wasn’t so complete. The analysis she put forth was really broken down to that level of clinical minutiae.
Yet no one can deny that once he had put himself on that spot, he would be vulnerable. Perhaps there was wisdom in restricting his audience size and the banning of questions.
What’s important is that he was contrite and apologetic for his errant behavior. That’s acceptable and responsible behavior.
Just a few hours after his public apology, ESPN ran a large Internet survey asking, “How did Tiger come across on his public apology: Sincere or not sincere?” The survey quickly returned an approval rating for Woods: 67 percent to 33 percent.
Americans are forgiving people, shall we say not? Remember how they viewed President Clinton and Mark McGuire after they issued their public apologies? It certainly did not increase their popularity by one bit. But they were forgiven. That is more far more important.
Woods shared in his public apology that Elin, his wronged wife, told him that the sincerity and truthfulness of the many apologies he had offered up to her, both in private and public, need to pass the test of time. Apparently, his hopes are now gone, with the divorce and settlement all for done and final.
Perhaps, we should now step aside and tuck our judgments under our belts and keep our noses pointed to the ground. Let us leave them alone and help them begin to pick up the pieces of their dismantled lives.
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