I was at the gym recently when I heard commentators from various programs who were angry, appalled, worried and possibly even frightened as they engaged in conversation about a recent event. I won’t go into the details, but they were sharing their views about a certain call referees made regarding what appeared to be a double catch at a football game. It was as if World War III had broken out.
Basically, what it boiled down to was the commentators believed the referees had made a mistake. Suddenly, the world was going to end because people are not allowed to make mistakes, and if they do, they must suffer intense and even savage punishment because mistakes are horrific. The message here simply appears to be that mistakes cannot be made.
Say those punishing the referees like Salem Witch trial judges are wrong, because to err is human, after all. That doesn’t bode well because the average person will resist the admittance of a wrong, almost like a trained soldier tortured for information, and if there is no realization of the wrong, then at least one individual believes he or she is still right.
Being wrong and making a mistake seem to go together in that the average person learns early on that both are to be condemned and avoided at all costs. While we say to err is human and that it is admirable to admit we are wrong, the message put out there is quite the opposite. It has created a climate in which mistakes do not happen, and if they do, they are horrible, and it is easier to eye everyone else suspiciously than admit we might be wrong.
The reality is, to err is indeed human and we are all going to make mistakes, and we all do make mistakes. That doesn’t necessarily mean we shrug off our mistakes and act as if they never happened and didn’t have an impact on anyone, but since it is something all humans do, it also does not make sense to condemn someone for doing something that is very human and unavoidable, acting as if we just found a stash of bodies in that person’s basement or discovered they were plotting to blow up America.
Reach Editor Stephen Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.