Friday, February 19, 2010


Communication is the process by which we bring the inside out.  It is the process through which we interpret the nature of the external.  Communication is the palette with which we paint the nature of our reality.  That composition is ancient and modern and made uniquely complex by the pervasiveness of contemporary media.  That complexity was much in evidence in Tiger Woods' address this morning.

The over-riding dialectic placed the personal and the private in tension with the professional and the public.  Here is a man who can, because of his public and professional persona, walk nowhere unnoticed.  Yet, here too is a man who seems to desire a life at least as private as yours or mine.  The chasm appears impossible to span.

Adding to the complexity is the extent to which communication acts enabled the crisis.  It was the immense wealth and celebrity made possible by the media that deafened Woods to the inner voice of the better man, that convinced him that the rules that bind our lives did not constrain his behavior.  A life without boundaries seemed to propel Woods into a surreal existence in which both his blessings and his banes bloomed to absurd proportions.

The protagonists in ancient Greek drama needed only to play out their hubris before the gods.  Tiger has had the public, via the media, with which to contend.  The same media that had sung him to heights of glory, now sought to Tweet him down; to judge the man according to the god-ling they had created.

Tiger’s own behavior, personal and professional – in the clear light of hindsight – gave evidence that the public god and the private man were coming unglued.  Excess is most often the blustering trapping of raging uncertainty.  And then came the night in November when tragedy and comedy conspired to shatter the dualistic illusion – leaving both the public and the man with no clear notion of who this character, this Tiger, was.

The media abhor a vacuum, and so turned their attention elsewhere. That is until today, when the savaged Prince returned, perhaps to reclaim the tarnished throne of Denmark.  The drums rolled, the trumpets blared; and in walked a very ordinary man.  He seemed a man who had awakened from a dream – a dream both wonderful and terrible.  He seemed a man resolved to seek a path to balance, normalcy and reality.  That he is not yet there was evidenced in his futile plea for privacy, for the media to leave his family alone: if you choose to swim with sharks, they must be fed.  Still, I am encouraged by his intention to return to the Buddhist teachings of his youth.  Of all the world’s great faiths, that is the one most firmly committed to the principles of harmony and balance.  I wish him well on his journey.

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