I want to start out this column by making an apology. That is rare in the newspaper world, as usually it is called a correction or a clarification of some kind. But the way I was brought up and the way I believe, when an apology is due, be man enough to own up to it and do it.
Last week we ran a photo of the Owsley County team members who were named to the Red River Classic All-Tournament Team. I thought it would be a nice gesture for a district team that gets very little press coverage. I did not look close enough at the picture and ran it. It was after a friend called joking about the picture and a few others who called were not so amused, that I realized the problem. One of the players was flying the bird, so to speak as he held his trophy.
Needless to say, I was shocked and upset. Not at the player, kids are kids and some do not use good judgment. But I was upset with me; I failed to notice the problem. So I am man enough to admit my fault, and apologize to my readers, the owner of the paper, the staff and anyone who may have been offended.
Asking for forgiveness is not easy for anyone. No one wants to admit they were wrong. Just look at Mark McGwire, the former Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals star, who just admitted he took steroids. It came as no shock to anyone who watched him play, but he feels he needs to come clean. Maybe it is because he is tired of being passed over for the Hall of Fame or maybe he truly is sorry. Either way, it was not easy for him.
We all need to remember that we have all done or said something that probably offended someone. I know in my job it is an occupational hazard. But I try to tell the truth and if that offends people I cannot help that. But if I intentionally try to hurt someone or lie then I am in the wrong. An apology is due.
The hardest part of forgiveness is that we all need it, we all need to give it and then we have to try to forget. That is very hard. But it is a necessity if for no other reason than to be able to move on with our lives.
I also look at it from a Biblical point of view. In Matthew 18: 21-22 Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive someone who has wronged him. Peter seemed to think seven times was enough, but if you look at Peter’s past, his temper probably would not have allowed it to go on too long. Jesus answered and told him that it should be seventy times seven. Does that mean 490 times? And do we actually keep count?
I don’t think so. I believe He meant that we have to forgive and go on. Just look at the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” I believe he meant it had to be never ending and that is hard to do.
People are the only species on earth that intentionally looks to harm others. But in most cases, it can be a gesture misunderstood or a slip of the tongue in anger that brings about a situation where forgiveness is needed.
But don’t think we can apologize then continue to do the same thing. Then the apology is meaningless as the heart is not in it. If your heart is not in it, then who wants it? More importantly if you truly believe that hurting someone is OK so you can make money or make a name for yourself, or you have convinced yourself that you are doing the right thing, make sure you’re right. I would hate to miss out on what lies ahead for me because I was too stubborn or too headstrong, two traits I have been accused of having, to say three simple words – “I am sorry.”
So what do I do now? First I have made amends to anyone who was offended by that picture. Now I must make sure I look closer next time. I guess the old eyes are fading. And yes, Richard Fain and a lot of baseball coaches have been saying I was blind for years during my umpiring days. Maybe they had a point, then again at the time so did I. But we all knew it was fun and we even owned up to few miscues from time to time. I would not have had it any other way.
We as adults, community leaders, professional people, everyday workers and parents are teachers and influences for the younger generation. They see how we act and if we are not willing to do what is right, what do they learn?
I’m just saying . . .