To err is human – Alexander Pope
Have you ever made a mistake? What was it like? How did you feel? How did others treat you? Making a mistake sucks. No one likes it. You can feel inadequate, it can raise ghosts about how you feel and think about yourself. Unfortunately, mistakes are simply a part of life.
This past week has given ample opportunity for us to see the humanity in others.
Kelly Ann Conway was seen sitting in the Oval Office. To the horror of many, she had her feet and possibly her shoes on the couch. Further, it seemed inappropriate for her to do so when there were guests (many) in the Oval Office.
Or how about the Oscars debacle? Brian Cullinan mistakenly gave Warren Beatty the wrong envelope. The Oscar for best movie went (for a short time) to the wrong people. PricewaterhouseCoopers is on the hunt to ensure those responsible will be found and handled appropriately for the embarrassment. (Insert Steve Harvey joke here)
You may or may not have heard about Vogue magazine's recent woes. To show diversity, they published a picture of many women. For some, the picture didn’t show enough diversity and in fact, showed people who were strikingly similar.
I could go on and on.
It appears that people are ready to pounce when mistakes are made. Does anyone else find this deeply disturbing? Am I the only one who tires of our cultural infatuation with ridicule?
I am no psychologist, but I bet there is something else at work here. There has to be something behind our need to shame and disgrace others even when they do a pretty good job of it themselves.
It reminds me of children.
Growing up you would hear kids say things like "They aren't nice to me so I won't be nice to them." No one is surprised children act this way. When they do, most work hard to help the kids see another perspective and give them the chance to change their mind or behavior.
It is very disturbing when this behavior is on display as adults. One mistake from someone we don't like or don't agree with, and the crowd yells "Crucify!" Politicians can't or won't work together. Division around political, social, economic or racial lines is the norm. Everyone is so concerned with their own rights, they fail to see the humanity in anyone who doesn't agree with them. We can not move forward as a free society this way.
Something has to change.
I would like to posit a recommendation. Grace-filled dignity.
What do I mean by that? It means that we offer one another grace. Grace is often defined as an unmerited gift. It always says more about the giver than the recipient. Grace is something good you get, even when you don't deserve it. In fact, you can't earn grace, it is dependent upon the giver.
That is where you and I come in.
To restore dignity to humanity and some semblance of civility to our discourse, we need to recover grace. We need to give it to those who make mistakes. We love to receive it when someone gives it to us, so we need to be good about giving it away.
By dignity, I mean valuing the Other. Deciding that people aren't objects, enemies or worthy of scorn is a step in the direction we need to take. Because we may not like or agree with someone doesn't mean they have no value.
If we only value someone because they agree with us, we are in real trouble.
Everyone who displays grace and grants dignity is looked upon with favor. Their quality and character are evident to those around them. Why can't we be those people?
The rest of Pope's quote says this, "to forgive is divine."
Maybe we can bring a little divinity to our humanity. Maybe shaming others isn't the way to go. Maybe there is a different way that will say more about us and less about the ones who make mistakes. Just maybe. As always if you have found this meaningful, please share, like, comment or follow!