What are we doing with this life? What is our goal? Do we strive to achieve the unachievable and aim to hit a target that isn’t really there? Many times, a person’s life and reputation is not dictated by a lifetime of achievement, but rather a few isolated events of wrongdoing or misfortune.
After a week of various news stories breaking, I was inspired to write about how a person’s life and reputation is always on the line. Barry Bonds is at risk of losing his career, stats, and reputation over an accusatory book about his alleged steroid use. Kobe Bryant‘s career was put on hold over a rape accusation. Robert Blake‘s acting career is pretty much over, even after being acquitted of the murder of his wife.
Not so famous people can suddenly have their fifteen-minutes of fame in a harsh light. Jennifer Wilbanks was an ordinary nurse before she ran out on her husband to be. Joran van der Sloot was just another spoiled rich kid until some woman’s daughter failed to return from a senior trip.
Too often, our lives don’t get the attention we would like it too. When we do finally get attention, it may not be the kind of attention we were hoping for. A pastor is just a pastor until he (or she) is accused of child pornography or molestation. A co-worker is just a co-worker until he or she is accused of sexual harassment or convicted of a felony.
Our lives, at least in the public eye, are not necessarily characterized by what we have done right, but of what we have done wrong. The public is unfortunately too quick to judge, and judges rather harshly.
Will Jennifer Wilbanks be remembered as a nurse, or a runaway bride? Will Bonds be remembered as a baseball great, or someone who abused steroids to exploit his talents? Will Michael Jackson be remembered as a talented singer and dancer, or a child molester? Will the pastor accused of improper sexual relations be remembered for his sermons, or for his personal life?
Our lives and reputations are fragile. One car wreck can handicap you for life. One accusation can ruin your career. One felony can ruin your prospects for success. One blog entry can get you terminated from your job. One empty threat against the President can have a bunch of black suits at your door.
Life is fragile, don’t you think?