Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Awaking the Sleeping Tiger

If you haven't noticed, I've been quiet the past couple of weeks. This is partially due to the fact that my semester was coming to a close and I was no longer required to blog as frequently, it was also due to the holidays, but I have to admit, I've been less than inspired of late. The Healthcare Debate was depressing and disheartening and although it has been passed, I'm not sure how much celebration is appropriate. Another strange attempt to blow up an airplane is thwarted. Just not much in the line of hope.

And amid all of this, is Tiger Woods. Tiger burst onto the scene in the mid to late 90s and captivated everyone because of his school and his apparent disdain for the hussle and bussle of fame. He was a good guy. He was a good athlete. Finally the world could focus on an athlete's talents, rather than get caught up in his or her moral flaws. But oh how the mighty have fallen.

As woman after woman after woman steps up to claim a piece of the toppling of Tiger, I find myself strangely unsurprised. Granted, I'm not the biggest fan of professional golf, but this lack of expectation for the moral characters of the "celebrities" in this world is something very deep and very troubling. Who can we turn to for encouragement when those our world apparently values the most are failing at their cores?

In Alex Altman's "The Moment" in Time Magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), he says: "As much as we love tearing down our idols, we're suckers for tales of redemption, and one Sunday next year, Woods will hoist another trophy. At that point, perhaps we can admire the achievement without deifying the athlete - and stop mistaking public prowess for private virtue."

There it is. There is the issue in a nutshell. As a society, we have come to allow our public leaders to be let off the hook, morally speaking. But really? We spend billions of dollars to pay these people to continue to entertain us, to encourage us, to remove us from our boring and humdrum lives, yet we can't hold them to a higher standard? I strongly disagree.

I'm disgusted by this situation. And I feel completely entitled to expect higher morals than have been exhibited by many a celebrity or leader. If they didn't sign up for it, stop taking our money.

One final thought. The other day I was talking with my Mom and I wanted to really push this issue about the moral high-ground, so I asked "What if a sex scandal came out about Obama?" Both of us paused. The weight of the question sort of lingered in the air. My Mom answered that she would be devastated, and when I thought about it, I would be too. Here is a leader, who has worked for the trust of millions, and if that trust would be broken, so would this country. I expect the people I admire and support to show more respect for my trust.

Maybe the real issue is not that the public figures we follow are so bad, but maybe we give our trust out too easily. Maybe it's time to have a vetting process for the roles of celebrity and athlete. I don't think that's too tall an order.


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