A Redefinition of Character
I have rarely, if ever, felt “sorry” for one of what used to be called ‘the big eight’ accounting firms, and is now probably better termed ‘the big one’ or perhaps two. However, Sunday night’s Oscar best picture meltdown is the exception that proves the rule. Human error is the unforgiveable sin, in this period of Lent, it appears. These folks have counted the ballots and delivered the envelopes correctly for 83 years. They made one huge mistake and it’s off with their heads. CEOs of media companies say they should be fired. Others simply tsk, tsk, tsk.
Human error. It’s a thing.
But we are living in a time of ever-escalating intolerance of messy humanity: I get testy (rather more than, actually) when the Verizon FiOS equipment doesn’t work upon arrival and the 1800-recording tells me to contact them on line. If I could get on line, I wouldn’t have a problem. By the time I get to a human being, I’m, hmmm, what’s the word? Let’s go with furious.
My brother gets frustrated when the workman who promised to show up on Tuesday simply doesn’t. And doesn’t call. And then shows up the next week, as if there’d never been an appointment.
The stranger on the street corner waiting to cross starts swearing a blue streak when the cab making the turn splashes him. Did the cabbie decide to spray him? I think not. There’s pooling water. There’s a couple of tons of machinery going at a fast clip around a corner. Stuff happens.
These are each tiny moments in the vast scheme of things. The daily agita. Anyone who has ever fallen flat on her face when walking down the street because she wasn’t paying attention (we name no names here), anyone who has only seen the typo when the PowerPoint is up on the screen, anyone who has ever made a joke that falls flat or even offends knows that our outrageous fortunes are filled with self-inflicted slings and arrows. We just don’t make our blunders in front of a billion or so people, live. Or watch them endlessly repeated on YouTube, late night television or the morning news. Until we do.
I think we missed the lede here. At a time when there is just so much to be nervous and on-edge about, the really cool thing was how the LaLa Land folks handled the moment. The spontaneity of their respect for Moonlight authenticates it. No way to ‘train’ for such a moment. This is the real deal. The way the Moonlight folks handled the moment. Again. Celebratory and respectful. The way, indeed, the Price Waterhouse Cooper folks handled the moment and its aftershocks. It is startling really. I suspect inspiring.
Character may well be how we behave when no one is looking. It is also how we behave when everyone is watching. When we’re embarrassed. When we’re disappointed. When the slings and arrows really, really hurt. It’s probably time to admit (are you paying attention CEO of Uber?) that there is no longer such a thing as a time when nobody’s looking.