Recently, three unrelated stories appeared in the news. Yet, they seemed somehow interconnected by a reality shared by everyone. The first story was that of Mark McGwire making his tearful confession that he had in fact used steroids over a ten-year period and, not ironically, right during the time (1998) when he broke Roger Maris’ single-season record, hitting seventy homeruns. The admission surprised no one. Few things do anymore, with the exception of perhaps Tiger Woods. It seems his admission surprised many of us. The newspaper headline bore McGwire’s admission, "I wish I had never used steroids."
The second and third stories were buried deeper in the paper. One was that of the verbal gaffe by Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader from Nevada. As have many others, it seems Reid has had to learn the hard way, that anything you say, write, or do will find its way to the web or, in this case, to the printed page and to the web. The passing comment he made during the last presidential election that Obama was “a light skinned African American with no Negro dialect,” was not only an antiquated thing to say but, frankly, a little surprising coming from him. The headline bore his confession, “I wish I had never said that.”
The third story was about the arrogant antics of the basketball star, Arenas. Just weeks after signing a six-year, $111 million dollar contract with the Washington Wizards, a reporter spotted guns hidden in his locker. His initial response to the reaction of the Commissioner was anything but adult-like. But, when the Commissioner suspended the rich player without pay, and that suspension was soon followed by felony charges for carrying a gun without a license, one can’t help but wonder if Arenas’ is not sitting somewhere and thinking, “I wish I had not done this.”
When reading or watching such news stories, it’s pretty easy to get critical, judgmental, and sort of wag one’s head in arrogant disbelief. But if you think about it, who of us has not done things, said things, or acted in ways that we've later regretted?
I was sitting on a plane when reading these headlines. I leaned over to share my air of pretense, judgment, and superiority with the fellow seated beside me. “Did you read these stories about McGwire, Reed, and Arenas?” Just as I did, however, I remembered the time when I was a junior in high school. One of my friends and I not only smoked pot on a fairly regular basis, but we operated a small business out of his bedroom closet. It was there that we stashed our grass and sold nickel bags to our friends and acquaintances. Neither of us got rich over it and, as I recall, our illegal business went south within weeks. I think he smoked most of our profits. Or, maybe it was I who did.
May not seem like a big deal now but, back then, had we gotten caught, the authorities would have slapped it to us, and that after the church community (for which both of us were active members) had burned us at the stake.
You say, “There’s still no comparison between your story and these others!” You think? Oh sure, the circumstances are different; the scope of the offenses, too. But, the attitudes behind the offenses? I suspect there isn't much difference.