What Tiger Tells Us About Us
The unfolding Tiger Woods scandal has been sad to watch (hard to believe this all started with a car crash). People are debating how much privacy celebrities should have, if personal life should have any bearing on public life, and many other things. What’s interested me most about all this is the way people are responding to it and what that says about our underlying assumptions about the world. Here are three prevalent responses that represent varying worldviews.
“Give him a break, he’s only human.”
It seems what people mean when they say this or derivations of it is that we cannot expect anyone to live life without making mistakes–even huge ones. A couple things that must be true to hold this statement as truth. 1) There is right and wrong. In order to make a mistake you have to do something wrong. In this situation people are judging his infidelity as wrong. This flies in the face of many who would say “there’s no right or wrong, just what’s right for you.” 2) There is something about humanity that makes it impossible for them to live without making some of these mistakes. While there may be good in people, there is also evil.
“He’s a man. What do you expect?”
By this it seems people mean that no man is capable of going any significant period of time without engaging in sexual activities. I have heard this statement most often linked to the facts that he is on the road (and away from his wife) a lot, he has lots of money and is famous so some women come after him, and (most appallingly) that his wife was pregnant when his infidelity began so he needed someone else to fulfill his “needs.” I’d like to give some nice commentary on this one, but it just pisses me off. I’m not saying the factors above couldn’t make adultery tempting, but they don’t make an excuse for it. As humans one of the things we have is an ability to make choices. These choices are impacted by our circumstances, often significantly, but we should still have responsibility for our choices. This response seems to be a salute to the tendency of our culture to pass on personal responsibility.
“That’s between him and his wife, it’s no one else’s business.”
This response makes a couple assumptions about our world. 1) There is total separation between the public and the private. Each person should have the right to project whatever image they want in public whether it is true in private or not. 2) The private lives of public figures are inconsequential to the way others live. By this I mean that while we may call someone a role model they have the prerogative to opt out of that or be given a pass when they fall short.
Any thoughts on these?