Friday, February 19, 2010

Privacy, the Public, Apologies and Tiger Woods

This morning I witnessed one of the most heart-wrenching apologies I have ever seen or heard. The saddest part of all, to me, is that it had to be made in public, rather than among the only people truly involved. Tiger Woods, following the very public exposition of his infidelity by a sensation-mongering "news" media, was pressed into making this very heart-felt, moving confession and apology to what I am sure was a very large audience. There was much consternation among those so-called "professional" reporters that they were not allowed to grill Mr. Woods, ask even more personal questions, and generally make a bigger circus out of the situation than it already is.

I for one am among what is seemingly a very few people who feel that Tiger Woods' private life (or anyone else's for that matter) is just that: private. How distressing to watch someone have to make a public confession about very private matters. He, of course, is not the only one to have been put into such a position; many other so-called public figures, who are considered public property only by virtue of how they choose to earn their living, have been put in the same position as Mr. Woods. One thing that is somewhat different in this case, is that while there was, according to him, much deception occurring in his marriage, he never lied to the public about the situation of which he spoke today by very purposely not speaking publicly at all. Apparently, his decision to speak out was not soon enough for some people, but I still regret that he had to do it at all in an open forum.

There have been many who say that he exploited his "squeaky-clean" image to his financial advantage, and in order to appear to be a superior and virtuous figure on the world stage. From what I have seen and heard of his public life, he was not the one exploiting such an image - it was the news and entertainment media (which these days are becoming more and more the same). As a matter of fact, it appeared to me that he went out of his way and to great pains to shield both his family from public view and to protect the privacy of himself and his parents, wife, and children. Of course, none of this excuses his adulterous, selfish behavior and flippant attitude he confesses to have done and felt. His transgressions, in his own words today, were shameful, hurtful, and ultimately damaging to those he cares about the most. He acknowledged that the clean-cut image that was inferred by many, through his sincere efforts to work with and encourage children and young people through sport also has suffered and will continue to suffer until, as his wife told him, he is able to prove himself through true repentance and living a new life. He has chosen Buddhism (in which he was raised) to help him to understand his place in the world, his responsibilities to his family, friends, and all humanity, and to assist him in keeping the promises he has made and/or renewed to all of them.

When did this phenomenon happen, this insatiable desire on the part of much of the public to feel entitled to know all the private business of other people's lives...especially those in the public eye simply because they have chosen (or been chosen) to live a life that puts them in the spotlight? To these people I say simply this: "IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!" Why do you feel you have the right to such information, and to huff and puff about other people's sins while at the same time covering up and attempting to hide your own. None of us are immune to grievous error or sin; indeed "all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God."

It is way past time to give Mr. Woods and his family the room and opportunity to work out their private matters privately. I applaud his decision to seek continued intense counseling, and to continue the work he has begun in order to redeem his life, and begin to live up to what he now expects of himself. Both he and his family have been chased and hounded enough; and as he expressed, why should they ever have to suffer at the hands of strangers something for which he alone is responsible?

I wish you well, Mr. Woods. And, as a dedicated fan and admirer of your extraordinary talents on the golf course, I look forward to soon being able to watch you again, playing with the unique determination and skill for which you are deservedly famous. I also pray that you might be reconciled with your family in whatever way is best for all concerned, and that your struggles as you seek to reset the path of your private life will be respected as just that: Private.

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