By: Marie Ecrivain / Contributing AOJ journalist
To err is human. Why then has society become so obsessed with people’s mistakes, poor choices or lack of good judgement. No one is perfect. To point fingers and ostracize someone for a mistake made especially decades ago seems well hypocritical. I am not referring to law breaking behavior nor am I referring to unprovable allegations. (those are additional subjects but not addressed here) Perhaps a poor decision was made in one’s youth should they be held to accountability and their subsequent life’s accomplishments tossed away as useless. To repeat no one is perfect.
Mistakes, how often do we all make mistakes. I venture to say we all make mistakes on an almost regular basis. It is how we all improve or learn. Without making some mistakes success would be less likely to occur. Ah but are social mistakes acceptable because basically those are typically the type of mistakes people are being lambasted for.
Is it okay to hold a person accountable with today’s societal norms on a behavior or action that occurred decades ago? Well if you are uncertain how about we take yesterday’s society norms and judge today. For example, in the 1930’s it was unusual for woman to have children out of wedlock to do so was unacceptable and frowned upon only 8.2% of children were born out of wedlock. Today, approximately 40% of births are to unwed mothers. Should we judge all those mothers on society norms which are no longer subscribed to? No one today is shocked by an unwed mother. To put that in perspective now we take today’s movement like the me-too movement and apply it to a decade when woman was treated differently and that was accepted by most of society. I am not casting judgement on if either of the societal behaviors are acceptable simply pointing out the general view of the public.
The lack of good judgement can occur in almost scenario. Humans are plagued by emotions. Emotions can facilitate a behavior that exhibits a lack of good judgement. Hence, that is how many youths learn to maintain composure when emotional. Often times it is the experience of becoming overemotional in public that helps one develop the knowledge of how to avoid that situation again. With the addition of social media in today’s world it has become an even tougher challenge. In additional those moments of poor judgement are more and more popularized adding an incentive rather than a deterrent.( for more about behaviors read “Etiquette in America?“) This plays right into the hyper focus of the mainstream media on publicizing and emphasizing a long-ago mistake made by others to up the emotions both by the alleged violator of socially acceptable behavior and those that read about the faux pas. Is that the right standard to hold?
How can a person anticipate in the future how their behaviors or actions will be perceived? The scale of “societal judgement “has not yet been determined. Yet now that is the new scale being applied to select individuals by the main stream media and by some political figures. Furthermore, not only is this a dangerous approach to take it also disregards any possibility that the person has learned from his previous actions. If we were to apply this conclusion than the entire prison reform program should be abandoned. There is no possibility for any learning or correction and certainly no forgiveness. Probation before judgement should also be discontinued because by the main stream media standards there is no learning the transgression has occurred and the guilty is forever sullied. There is no possible improvement or applied learning process. The media wants to have its cake and eat it to.
In the social application the accused has “broken” a social law that was not put into law until after long after that social transgression had occurred. No ex-post-facto law shall be passed in the constitution though this clause is primarily interpreted to apply to criminal cases is an interesting mindset to attribute to the intentions of the founding framers of the constitution and what they hoped to avoid. I am surmising this very application of standards currently being exercised in the mainstream media on social changes would be a charge they would be rallying against. A man can not avoid committing a social faux pas if it is not one when he commits it.
Social norms vary and evolve therefor no one can truly know all the “appropriate” things to say and do. To hold any person to the perfection standard is unreasonable. Similarly, everyone has made a social blunder and no one should be held accountable and never forgiven for it. This new approach by the mainstream media has taken bullying to a new level. As well it has tied cinder-blocks to the feet of compassion and forgiveness. That is not American. No one is perfect.