This whole business with Tiger Woods has got me thinking. But first let me come clean. I'm a big fan of Tiger Woods. I watch golf because of Tiger Woods. I love his impish grin. Something about him simply captures and holds my attention. Maybe it's that he always wears a red shirt on the last day...
A week ago I would have said that I admired what I assumed was his integrity. And then the car crash, rumors, confessions and not only tabloid but major news sources couldn't resist writing about a private matter over which the public (and media) seems obsessed. "OMG, he's human!" Ah, yes, he is, and always has been. " He messed up!" Indeed he did. How human of him! "How could he cheat on that glamorous and adoring wife?" I won't even begin to respond to that one specifically.
So here's the thing. Integrity. That's what I've been thinking about. My dictionary tells me that integrity has to do with wholeness, entirety, unbrokenness, moral exactness, perfection. While there are indeed people who maintain a level of integrity by such a definition, no one is perfect. We all have flaws, and those flaws litter different areas of our lives. At what point does one's brokenness diminish the virtue of integrity to the the extent that such a label cannot, or does not, apply to him or her? Does it matter that poor choices which lead to unacceptable behavior is exacted privately versus publicly? Is integrity context specific, and who or what determines whether or not one might be considered to be a person of integrity?
As a culture we also have sacred cows of moral expectations. One of them relates to the violation of sexual boundaries, including adultery. But as a culture we are also fairly forgiving when that particular line is crossed. Like it or not, adultery occurs frequently, and I would venture to guess that almost every family has someone on the family tree whose indiscretions are whispered (and yes, my own family includes them). The sin, if you will, is commonplace, and visits all manner of individuals from the rich and famous to the lowest class known. It is also a private matter. Though it can affect others beyond the transgressor and the transgressed, adultery hurts most where trust is betrayed. It is for Tiger and Elin, his wife, to navigate the road that can lead to the restoration of trust between them, and heal whatever other elements in their relationship may have contributed to this breach.
I don't hold Tiger blameless, but I am also very aware from my own and the experiences of others in a multitude of situations that it is not for anyone to judge. Unless we are walking in his shoes, we can't know the life he lives or the private sacrifices he makes for the privilege of fame. I am sad for Tiger, for Elin, for the others involved that any of this has taken place, privately, and I lament the public thrashing he has received.
Tiger has chosen to withdraw from his professional life for an indefinite period of time to tend to his family. He compromised his two loves: Elin and golf. He is paying a dear price. Oddly enough, that, to me, is a sign of integrity.