A great surprise on our return: our nephew stopped by to visit. We don't see him too often, and had certainly not expected to see him yesterday, so it was a special pleasure. He is a follower of The Buddha Diaries, and in fact started his own blog, The Wandering Jewish Dreamer--an apt title, which says a lot about him. He loves to travel, and gravitates constantly in the direction of his family's ancestral origin in Eastern Europe. His blog is, as I read it, a blend between autobiography and fiction, little quasi-Kafkan episodes which combine whimsy with a strange kind of earnestness. I'd love to see him get more consistent!
Anyway, Naftali--as a TBD reader--wanted to know what I thought about Tiger Woods and wondered why I had not written about him. I have purposely NOT been writing about Tiger Woods because all the world and her brother has been doing it for me. But just for Naftali, here's what I think: as I see it, it's about trust--and a sad reminder that trust is in very short supply these days. Tiger, particularly, crafted an image of trust for an adoring public, and must share ownership of it with those who bought into it. While I am personally sympathetic to his claims to privacy--his sex life is really none of my business--I believe he made a bargain with the devil in embracing the role of superstar and is now being called upon to pay his dues. Like John Edwards, who also projected the image of a cherubic, fresh-faced, squeaky-clean exception to the sleazy, feet-of-clay public figure we have come to expect, his breach of trust is all the more inviting for media scrutiny because of the discrepancy between image and reality.
It's okay to keep secrets. Indeed, it's often preferable to blurting everything out--especially when the "it" is one's personal dirty laundry. I know I write a great deal about what others prefer to keep to themselves---most notably my inner conflicts. I absolutely honor those who treat these matters as secret, private parts of their lives, parts I would consider it rude and intrusive to pry into, unless specifically invited.
Lies, though, are different, and I believe that--let alone the personal betrayal involved--Tiger was offering an implicit "truth" about himself to those who admired him, even worshipped him, and that his deception therefore is no different from a lie. Lies, as in Tiger's case, have an unfortunate way of coming back at you when the "real truth" is revealed, and cause infinite ripples of suffering to the perpetrator himself, to those he loves and who those love him, and so on, in ever-widening circles. I believe also that keeping a lie--unlike keeping a secret--is sure to cause lasting inner harm to the psyche. I don't wish to come off as self-righteous I have told lies myself, in my own life. I have told serious, hurtful lies, as I suspect most of us have done. And it has been important for me to recognize them and to know the consequences.
So I can feel compassionate toward Tiger without letting him off the hook. His lies were public, publicly hurtful to family, friends and fans, and he owes something more than the half-hearted, behind-the-curtain apology for "transgressions" that he offered. He needs a make-up. One way to start, in my judgment, would be to tell the truth---not as some kind of shameful public confession, but as a way of simply getting the facts of the matter out from under the carpet and being accountable for them. I honestly don't know how this would look. Not Oprah, for God's sake. But a serious public forum--a Charlie Rose, perhaps, or a Travis Smiley--which could avoid the salacious detail in favor of simple, factual honesty.
In his private life, a man must do his make-ups as best he can. But also, having prominently occupied public space, the Tiger will only be able to restore himself to favor if he finds the right way to do his public make-up too. Only then can the broken trust be re-established. That goes, as they say, with the territory. If he can manage it with the grace with which he drives a golf ball, he should do okay.