There are two phrases, in rampant use in American society, that speak of lack of character and moral conviction.
1.) “Mistakes have been made.”
2.) “I just want to put it behind me and get on with my life.”
The first is a favorite of politicians; the second, of pro athletes.
The moral flaws of each are obvious. “Mistakes have been made” makes mistakes into the noun. No one made them, they simply happened. A person of character and conviction says “I made mistakes.” Its called owning up — taking responsibility.
“I just want to put it behind me” speaks to a refusal to claim responsibility for repercussions of one’s actions. When wrongs are done, wreckage is left behind. A person of character and conviction does not simply want to move beyond the past, he or she wants to repair the past.
As we begin to point fingers in the wake of Katrina’s awful aftermath, keep an eye to who says what.
When you hear a man or woman say, “I made mistakes,” you know you are listening to a person of sound moral fiber.
When you hear someone say the equivalent of, “I must make reparations for the damage my actions have caused,” you know you are listening to a person of character.
Now is when leadership will show. Stump thumping, chest beating, and crocodile tears are especially hollow at a time like this. Look for the persons who put this tragedy on their backs and try to move it toward safety. There you will find your real leaders.
It will be interesting to see who those real leaders turn out to be.