27 February 2013: Helton shows he’s human in addressing DUI

Helton shows he’s human in addressing DUI

Sorry, Todd Helton. You acted unwisely when you drove your vehicle while under the influence and will need to pay the consequences, which you will do most willingly.

That makes you human.

Thank you, though, for accepting responsibility rather than copping a superstar attitude like so many others in America’s pantheon of gods, heroes, and lovable monsters.

None of what you do for a living is ultimately important, but society deems it so, so much so that you are awarded—not earn like those who groom the field on which you play—an obscene amount of money for playing a game, acting out in adulthood your childhood fantasies.  Not bad, not bad.  We should all be so fortunate, one supposes.

You’re not alone, of course, and believe me when I say I don’t envy you for a moment, although I jokingly once asked my doc’s PA if I could get a refill of the miracle dosage of steroids that cured my horrible cough.  I tongue-in-cheek told her that if I began a regular Bobby Bonds-type of regimen, I could take over for you after your retirement despite me being a sexagenarian and not having played first base since I was 17 years old.

Once she got the joke, she laughed and told me I was a character.  Yes, I am, but then that’s another topic with which to toy.

Nevertheless Todd, you’re a victim, not because you got caught but because the consequences you get from a judge ought to be the end of it.  But that won’t be.  The reason is you’re other, a superstar, a role model, a hero even though you are simply, as noted, an overpaid athlete who has done wonderful things on the baseball field.  All of that deprives you of the simple human right to be yourself.

If you were an ordinary person, you would be brought before a tribunal of justice, given your just desserts, and left alone to deal with the personal impact the action made on your life; but you’re not ordinary and so held to a different standard.

That was your choice, of course, so you had to stand for shame before a body of judges both in the press and in the larger culture who relished in their power to see you grovel for forgiveness.

In his seminal work Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach captures that energy when Jonathan is obligated to stand before the Council of Elders for breaking the code of behavior:

“…for reckless irresponsibility [for] violating the dignity and tradition of the Gull Family.”

Jonathan, because he decided not to suborn himself to the larger society’s standards, would be outcast.

Jonathan’s offense is different than yours—he decided he no longer wanted to be an ordinary gull whose whole life is dedicated to mere survival—but, nonetheless, you both violated a taboo.

You were way too hard on yourself seriously considering retirement because you felt shame.

When I read that, I shook my head and wanted to yell, “No, Todd!  What you did was irresponsible; it was not morally debilitating, a heinous act such as a venture capitalist’s who swoops in, snags a struggling business, puts it out of its misery by canning all the workers without fair compensation, and laughs all the way to the Cayman Islands with ill-begotten gains.”

The old adage is partially correct: To err is surely human, but to forgive is not divine; it is to play divine, to play God.  Those who judge, those who feel the need to judge sense in themselves an inadequacy that ends up being projected as superiority.

It might be difficult, but to assess your situation, one has to divorce the act of driving under the influence from the act of being under the influence…period.  Your image, your persona is now shredded.  You’re no longer Todd the Pure, some superhuman who might be struggling to hit as he once did but is still expected to be a model of virtue, of moral certitude.  Your wings are in tatters.

I like that, not because I find perverse pleasure in seeing you brought down, but because if we ever meet, you and I might actually be able to have a real conversation, something I cannot do with a lesser man.

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