"I'm sorry for the things I've done.
I know that I'm the foolish one.
Now that I see who's to blame.
I'm so ashamed, I'm sorry." (The Platters, 1957)
If Tiger Woods confesses to private acts after they became public -- and takes three months to do so -- should the public accept his confession and forgive him?
Some media critics think last Friday's staged event with a friendly audience that included Woods' mother, his friends and selected journalists was too perfect, too scripted and too much. Others want to wait and see if he can put his family back together and get his golf game back on track.
No one can fully know the human heart, but to be believable Woods must lead a new and consistent life in which he demonstrates he has acquired the character and integrity he confessed he failed to embrace. Woods noted that his wife, Elin, "pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time."
Was this a public relations gimmick, or the real deal? We know of crooks that have gone straight and we admire them for it. Some have given testimonies in churches or at old Billy Graham crusades. Adulterers should have the same opportunity for redemption.
The problem in our culture is that standards have been exchanged for feelings and a nonjudgmental attitude. All choices are to be treated as equally valid so long as the person making the choice "feels good" about it. "It can't be wrong, if it feels so right," goes the song, when in fact it very often can be wrong if it "feels" right. Woods said he "felt" he was entitled to all of those women.
So, was he sincere? A better question might be: was he demonstrating remorse, or repentance? Remorse is regret for getting caught at something one should not have done. Repentance is an acknowledgement that one's behavior has offended an authority higher than one's self and a commitment to turn from that behavior with the intention of never engaging in it again.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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