Upon ironclad confirmation that superstar golfer Tiger Woods had engaged in a pattern of marital infidelity of such scope, breadth and sheer numbers that one wonders how he ever found time to tee off, Tiger’s mother (and later Tiger himself) would say only that he “made one mistake.”
Award winning Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock’s husband, Jesse James, had a long-term affair with a woman he met on the Internet. This indiscretion was confessed by Mr. James to have been “a mistake.”
Not to be outdone, politician John Edwards, after first denying any involvement, finally admitted that he sort of kind of maybe did have a long term affair with a woman he dallied with while his long-suffering wife battled cancer. Edwards, we were assured, also “made a mistake.”
Actually, in his case, he made a baby with his mistress. Cute kid, but I’m pretty sure that in the eyes of most, creating a whole other human outside the bounds of your marriage registers as slightly more than an “oops.”
I find it telling — and somewhat galling that all these men refer to serial infidelity and cheating on their spouses as a “mistake.”
Apparently, they were just sitting their reading their Bibles and the next thing they knew a stiff breeze blew them into the arms of a mistress. Sure thing, Mister. Happens all the time.
Forgetting to carry the one and messing up your checkbook balance? That’s a mistake. Use salt in place of sugar in a recipe? Classic mistake. Backing your car into a retaining wall and tearing off the exhaust system? Easy mistake. I’ve had that happen myself.
Seriously though, repeated infidelity is now a mistake? How does that work exactly? Did they trip and fall into the arms — and bedrooms — of other women?
Dudes, you messed up. Own it. You aren’t “addicted.” You are a jerk. Period. Forget chivalry. Apparently, personal responsibility is the real lost art.
Granted celebrities are not duty-bound to be good role models for the rest of us. There’s a good reason why Tiger is a great golfer and not a great leader. Why John Edwards didn’t make the cut toward great leadership at all. Why Jesse James, well, who knows what he does but clearly something caught the eye of Sandra Bullock.
That said, I think the rest of us owe a duty to society as a whole to cast a jaded eye on behavior that is beyond the pale of mean spirited, irresponsible, and in poor taste.
Giving a pass to illicit, illegal, and/or immoral behavior isn’t how we would treat a friend, or family member, why then do we accept it in celebrities?
Masking poor choices as “mistakes” is yet one more way that the collective “we” has come around to abdicating personal responsibility in the name of victimization.
We do not cause things to happen, we seem to say, things just seem to happen TO us. Poor, poor, pitiful us. If you can muster a tear while professing your serious sorrow over past “mistakes” then kudos to you for being so “honest” some say.
Pulleeze. Confessing only after you’re caught is hardly the hallmark of a stand-up guy. It’s more the kid elbow-deep in the forbidden cookie jar saying “it wasn’t me!”
A wrong turn, missed digit, a forgotten birthday are all forgivable mistakes. Making the decision — the personal CHOICE — to disregard the trust of the person nearest and dearest to you, not to mention the faith and regard of family, friends, constituents, and fans, is not a mistake, its personal indulgence.
Taking responsibility for your choices — even the poorest and most misguided ones — is the sign of someone who deserves forgiveness. Anything else is just excuses — and a poor excuse.
To err is human, but to whine and make excuses is definitely not divine.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt accepts mistakes — and personal responsibility. She welcomes comments via email@example.com; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or visit her online at www.kymberlyfosterseabolt.com.)