If the world paid any mind to the biblical wisdom of “let he who has no sin cast the first stone”, do you think Tiger Woods would still be the battered man he is right now? And of the millions that have taken a moral high ground and hurled stones through all forms of commentary, how many do you think would continue standing after a public tour of their own closets? The public tour of Tiger’s closet has been a well conducted one what with the tour guides only too keen to ensure that nothing remains unseen.
It has been a while since I last saw so many stones thrown at one person, so intensely and so repeatedly within such a short space of time. I suppose a life celebrated for its ability to garner a lion’s share of talent, fame and fortune cannot realistically expect a church mouse’s portion of scandal, can it? Consider Michael Jackson and the uproar that his child molestation charges caused; Bill Clinton and his Lewinskygate; and now most recent and ongoing, Tiger and what I can only liken to a cardboard house in a hurricane…coming out unscathed is not even a remote possibility.
If you have missed the news surrounding the world’s greatest golfer, then you must live under a really comfortable rock and no, I will not be the one to trespass so let someone else (a Google search perhaps?) interrupt that vacation! After opening with Obama’s inauguration, reaching midway with Michael Jackson’s passing and closing with Tiger’s woes, 2009 can be said to have been a dream year for news (both in terms of content and sales/audiences) and overwhelming public outpouring of sentiments (facebook and twitter have just been crazy!).
This blog is not your typical Tiger story so do not expect any “omg was he trying to set more world records?” “omg how much penance will rescue him from the couch?” or even the really popular angle “is it team ‘whites only’?”(Although on this one I must admit I have made it my business and wondered to myself where preference ends and fetish begins! Mmmh and remember how…oh well never mind. See, I cannot afford a good lawyer so don’t you get me started on that path! Besides I have more pressing uses for my US$10 fortune). What I meant to say was that I’m only referring to Tiger as a case in point to help me think aloud on a few things not that his life is any of my business.
First thought: do people choose to be role models or are they involuntarily cast into this responsibility-intensive role due to their ability to be the best at what they do? And if they didn’t choose it, should they be held accountable for not living up to the expectations it came with? Should they be crucified for failing people who, out of their own will, chose to elevate them to the position of mini deities? Perhaps it is time we all accepted what we already know: greatness, talent, popularity etc do not exempt anyone from being human, they do not make anyone infallible. Staying with this thought, could the outrage being directed at Tiger be coming from people’s own disappointment that he has burst their bubble of a most perfect, super-talented man? Are they angry that he has shattered their illusions and shown that he really is a regular guy…capable of making less than honourable decisions and clearly fighting his own battles like the rest of them?
If, however, the outrage is driven by people’s genuine contempt for infidelity then maybe I should give the human race more credit in that area than I currently do. Because as far as I have seen things work, infidelity has never been prime time news, it is just one of those things, in fact it has been tolerated to the point of being glorified. It has been dressed in all manner of glamorous titles and euphemisms, all of them somehow aimed at softening the stark tragedy that it is. If you are from my part of the world you are probably even familiar with one or two ‘wise’ sayings or cultural ‘wisdom’ defending and even exalting it. It only ever becomes an issue when something goes ‘wrong’ e.g someone gets caught pants down, or they get incapacitated or even die while in the company of the ‘other’ man or woman, or if the cheated on partner decides to leave. Which makes me wonder what Tiger is really being crucified for; does his ‘crime’ lie in doing it or getting caught?
I am all for fair comment on public happenings (gives us conversation lovers more reason to even talk in our sleep!) but I find comment for the sake of judging neither appropriate nor necessary. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable about our values as people. Why, for example, do people find ‘a rise and fall’ story more interesting than a ‘rise and rise’ story? Why do they find it more interesting to talk about people’s failures (excuse the judgemental term) more than their virtues? My take is that people generally feel cleaner after heaping dirt on other people, like wiping themselves clean on others. Ok, in the interest of unity and my desire not to be accused of being Miss Self Righteous, I will from here on use ‘we’, the safest pronoun in the bag! Here goes: WE use other people’s shortcomings to sanctify ourselves; we feel that if someone is worse than us then we are not that bad after all. So this ‘bad’, ‘bad’, man or woman makes everyone else look like saints the same way scruffy people make even average people look really elegant. Or the way a dwarf makes even short people look really tall. And so it becomes a case of dishing out contempt to dwarf another person enough to make us look taller, not that it actually adds even quarter an inch to our heights!
And while we are on the issue, I can’t help but wonder what the picture would have been if it was a married female celebrity of Tiger’s iconic stature e.g…(that’s your cue to contribute) that went around with not one, not two but ten club hosts, waiters, porn stars etc. I bet a new term would have been invented by now because disgraceful would not sound bad enough. And I personally would not be surprised because I’m only too familiar with our world’s standards, what is readily tolerated or even justified as ‘natural’ in men is unreservedly condemned in women. Just consider these terms for a man with multiple sex partners ‘player’ (euphemism of the millennium if you ask me), polygamist (‘it’s our culture’ blah blah blah) and now the female equivalents prostitute, slut and many other unprintables that you and I know. I apologise for that interlude and I apologise further that it has given you a long running assignment as you may now have to find new names for those female ‘players’ and ‘polygamists’ in your neighbourhood!
All said I guess the real point of my *cough* *coouuugh* sermon is that when we (check how well I’ve kept my word on the pronoun) scorn another person’s shortcomings with the zeal a starving man approaches a free meal, we should remember too that what we put out really does come back to us…hence my favourite creation for the year 2009: KARMA NEVER GETS THE ADDRESS WRONG…it always comes back home. Happy holidays to you all. See you in the magical 2010!