Commentary: A little humility goes a long way

There is a notion almost as old as time called Karma, or, "What goes around, comes around," meaning you can't do bad by others and expect Karma, at some point in your life, not to catch up with you. And when it does, it's usually moving pretty fast.

We've all experienced a bit of Karma. We've all done and said things we are not proud of. If we're smart, we'll recognize when Karma has visited and promise not to go down that road again.

Look at all the people Karma has visited recently. Ask Tiger Woods about Karma. How could — what some say is the greatest golfer to ever to walk the planet — expect to get away with doing the shimmy-shimmy-cocopop on the side? Didn't Bill Clinton teach men everywhere something? If not old Bill, how about old David Letterman? Glenn Richardson, former speaker of the Georgia House, didn't the other political meltdowns teach him anything?

It's bad enough doing a true confessions when you're not a celebrity, but to have to admit to transgressions on national TV. Just the thought should have prevented it from happening.

Woods should have also known there was an ulterior motive on the minds of the snuggle bunnies he was bedding down with. They were looking for a payday. Why did Monica Lewinsky keep the blue dress? Why did what's-her-name keep Tiger's text and voice messages? It wasn't to relive sweet memories. It was to provide evidence when gotcha day rolled around.

Clinton handed, on a silver platter, the power of his presidency to an intern. Woods gave some waitress the power to make some of his millions disappear, depending on what his wife decides. I could go further; there are thousands of sordid tales, from Kobe Bryant to Alex Rodriguez out there.

Kenny Burgamy told me about a sermon his pastor at Mable White, Lee Sheppard, gave one Sunday that Tiger and Bill and David — and all the rest of us — should listen to. He said we are all human and challenged by many foibles. Men were made to be attractive to women and women to men, he said. But we all know when that little twinge of excitement and attraction hits us. The advice he gave when that happens is simple: Run. Don’t stop and try to figure it out. Run. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll only take it so far. It's like playing with fire. Run, before the fire engulfs you.

However, the laws of Karma apply to more than just sexual dalliances. Those cruel words we use when we’re angry. Here comes Karma. That good deed we were too busy to do. Here comes Karma. Sometimes it’s sins of omission, stuff we know we should be doing but don’t. Here comes Karma.

Here’s some more advice that should keep us out of Karma’s path. Be humble. It’s when we get the big head about how smart we might be, how much money we have or power that we wield or where we live and what we drive that gets us in trouble. We start feeling we’re invulnerable, that we can do anything to anybody with impunity, particularly those who are nearest to us.

We start to look down on “those people” and give ourselves too much credit for whatever success we’ve had. We suddenly forget that our parents were able to put us through college or put up the down payment for our first home, or that we drove to school while many of our classmates walked or rode the bus.

Ask a few people who have gone through a few things and I’d bet much of their fall was due to a lack of humility and an overabundance of hubris.

Humility is a trait that makes us think a bit more before we act; makes us watch the language we use and helps us to be more aware of our surroundings and how others might perceive our actions.

And one final bit of advice as we head into the holidays. If humility doesn’t work, just remember one word: Run.


Charles E. Richardson is the Telegraph’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478) 744-4342 or via e-mail at crichardson@macon.com.