In today’s Reading Eagle, Cal Thomas writes the following column:
Standards for behavior out; acting on one’s feelings is in.
What Cal didn’t realize is just how ironic and how appropriate to his own situation his title really is. While he spends most of the article wasting more print space on the Tiger Woods problem as his vehicle to deliver to readers another lecture on the apparent lack of morality and biblically derived ethics in the world or America today, I took upon his title of the article to reflect on Thomas’ own application of the notion he asserts.
From what I’ve seen and read of most of Cal’s columns, he seems to employ to an epitomized extent the very notion of applying of what one feels is right to many of the issues he often raises with his weekly or daily syndicated diatribes and media appearances on the networks, especially Faux News.
He has often expressed what are clearly his feelings about something that are not modeled on some standard of behavior, and fails to see that there is NO per se exclusive standard of behavior to go by now or ever. I’m not saying ethics are bad and to throw your discipline out the window and just be a pile of whatever humanity you want and act like a complete idiot at whim. However, his views, like mine, or anyone else’s are colored and tainted by our particular values and beliefs and such and because of that, standards of behavior, beyond some strictly codified laws and basic agreed to social constructs, are open to interpretation and rely on our unique humanity for their creation, continuation, and evolution.
Not to belabor the Tiger Woods matter, but I think he should’ve been honest with himself from the get go and just confronted the fact that he wanted to be polyamorous and should’ve been honest with the women he met, knew, and had affairs with. This way, the ladies he fancied could know his truest intentions, but alas Cal’s standards of behavior, as with so many others, would say that being polyamorous is not the answer, but only fidelity is the answer. I say, most resoundingly, bullcrap! It is actually precisely these derived “codes” or “standards” of behavior that put people into positions that then become the basis for why they sneak around and act the way they do, which is how they really feel, until they are “discovered” and scorned for being who they are. Then, you get the whole PR rescue job and mea culpa from them that is often insincere or outright lies, when they’d be much happier and better off to admit they are just who they are and can’t be anything else. Unless someone wants to really change and feels the strong need to change for the right reasons, putting them to the measure of expectations that stem from Cal’s “standards of behavior” don’t really make it possible for some people to be happy in life and to be who they really are, without having great difficulty and static from those who feel compelled to be the judgers of all that is seemingly righteous.
Again, I’m not saying we should not condemn or call out those who have done seriously reprehensible behavior and Tiger was wrong to sneak around and cheat and should’ve been honest with his wife, but the idea that he must now atone and force upon himself the need to change his true self simply to edify others or hold to something that didn’t work in the first place, is just as wrong to me.
Ultimately, I feel that too many “standards of behavior” have a way of becoming a convenient vehicle to put unrealistic and restrictive expectations upon people in their daily lives that end up causing more scandal and begetting more suffering in the human condition than they help to avoid by adhering to them. Humanity is never so ideal to fit into a neat muffin tin of prescribed behavior and lifestyles or choices. We need some limits, yes, but moderation in the deepest sense must be applied to this as with any other aspect of life.