Every day, I encounter a new challenge to the idea that things can and should be open and real.

Be it social, political, or personal, serious or trivial -- every time, I ponder the implications.

I hope you'll join me in the conversation!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Skinny Branch

So this is, as they say, me "going out on the skinny branch."

I want to write just a little bit about the whole social response to Tiger Woods and his admission of infidelity to his wife, Elin. And since he and Elin are the parents of two very young children, I think it may not be over the line to say that he has strayed from something much bigger and more significant than just his relationship with one woman.

It's always a shock to realize how imperfect you are, and I mean that sincerely.

Item One that Troubles Me: I know. We all know. Any grown-up aware of your situation knows. You are the last to know.

I don't believe that I am any better than this man, or better than any other person. I was raised in a faith tradition that says all are flawed, and to tell yourself otherwise is to head down a dangerous and arrogant path. So please, stop educating me, and stop acting like admitting you are human is some Big Revelation to anyone but you. It's insulting. I encourage this conversation with yourself, but truly you are the last to know. We know.

Item Two that Troubles Me: As a society, we are more and more likely to say that this failure is not relevant.

I believe that the only the two people in a marriage who know what it is and what is going on (and sometimes not even then) is, well, those two people. I myself have been divorced. I am not interested in encouraging judgement on the highs and lows of other people's relationships. But I'm also a little freaked-out that we seem to have swung from making adulterly an offense punishable by death, to shrugging it off and saying it doesn't have anything to do with "us."

When we say as a society that it is irrelevant, and everyone votes in their online polls about how they don't care about his personal life, it feels to me like we are turning our backs on a very sad and vulnerable situation. We are saying, look, just play golf, and you -- the Mrs. -- quit complaining, there is plenty of money in this for you, the kids will eat, and it will all be fine.

I'm pretty sure no on in the Woods' house is fine. And it's painful to me that the public choice seems to be to say it's none of our business and who cares, or to make jokes or attack the participants in some way.

On Father's Day, the NY Times ran a beautiful feature on this family: how they loved each other, how it was a dream come true, how they inspired other people in so many ways. That was about 6 months ago. I don't think I'll ever forget that picture.

Please don't think I'm saying I have the answers. I'm not saying that.

But I am saying that if we can't stand up for the fact that it is a big deal when a family is permanently scarred by these kinds of choices and events, we are in worse trouble than I already thought.


Heather said...

It seems to me that the general public is so wishy-washy about the things that raise their hackles. Remember Bill Clinton's scandal? He almost got impeached. Now Tiger's crap... no one cares? It's just too ridiculous to think about for me.

Also... I wasn't aware of the NY Times article. That's heart-breaking.

Barb Bixby Putman said...

Absolutely! It isn't the end of the world, but his actions (like all of ours) do have an impact on the world, particularly on public and private values about relationships, and in a small way and over time, on others' perceptions (and, unfortunately maybe even actions) about ethical issues regarding honesty, respect, honoring commitments, etc.

Missy said...

I think what it is that I don't want to see is the hashing out in public. I don't know why there's part of me that feels like this is one that needs to be dealt with privately; I'm usually reading the magazines in the checkout line (and at home, if I'm honest).

Maybe it's the out-of-the-blue nature of this, maybe it's the two small children at home, maybe it's the raw emotion that must have been behind Friday's incident. As a fellow divorcee'(that seems like such a dated word), there is no easy answer, is there?

The EDG said...

Here's a link to the Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/sports/golf/14woods.html?_r=1

Anonymous said...

As a long-time Tiger loyalist, I have to say this stunned me. My adoration for this guy just flat blinded me to his humanity. Now here it is, on display, warts and all. I have always pulled for him because, in this world of sleezeballs, I wanted there to be a Superman, not just professionally, but personally. But he's not, I mean REALLY not; I assumed he had basic personal shortcomings, but not this creepy and base. It is an old story: hubris will get you, sooner or later. I DO care, and I'm just really disappointed.