Forgiveness is a tricky thing

I was thinking about forgiveness the other day when I was listening to Brian Williams apologize for misrepresenting the truth about his coverage during the Iraq War.
It is offensive when news information is reported inaccurately and regardless of our understanding or acceptance of his apology, his career has slammed into a brick wall—having been demoted to covering fall fairs and the like.
This is where the forgiveness idea comes in.
No part of me thinks we should acquire a classification of celebrity for reporting the news. Although Walter Cronkite became an icon for a generation of news watchers, I don’t believe he became bigger than the news he was reporting.
I’m not sure the same can be said today. We get so caught up in celebrity and fame, and all the madness that goes with it, that sometimes we do lose sight of the truth.
The point that stuck with me through all of this drama with Mr. Williams is that we hold others to greater accountability than we hold ourselves. As long as we are drawing breath, we are making mistakes—mistakes on a grand scale and little ones.
When I am driving along lost in thought, and I miss an opportunity to let a car in from an opposing street or to come out of a parking lot, I cringe with regret. It wasn’t intentional yet the result is the same: I missed an opportunity to do the right thing.
When I am too tired to bother to clean out the mayonnaise jar, and I throw it in the garbage instead of the recycling, I feel remorse.
These are very small examples, of course, and I have erred on a much grander scale in my life, but the inference is the same. Not one of us is without mistakes on our résumés. Not one single person.
Seventeen years ago, I took my very sick six-year-old daughter to the doctor. She was slipping away before my eyes and I was scared beyond scared. She had lost a quarter of her body weight in 10 days and she couldn’t close her eyes due to her severe dehydration.
My doctor decided she had a nasty urinary tract infection and sent me home with a prescription to clear it up. But I knew it was something bigger than this and after a few hours at home, I wrote him a note begging him to rethink his diagnosis and listing her symptoms.
I was certain Thea had diabetes and I was right. And within what felt like too many hours, we were in an ambulance speeding to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
The reaction of family and friends was to advise me to punish this doctor and certainly not to seek his medical assistance again. I made the best decision; I stayed with this doctor.
He learned from the experience, he now listens very carefully to the intuition of mothers, and he is a better doctor for it. He told me he made a mistake, that he missed the signs, that he let his own fatigue compromise his skill.
We talked it out and we were all better for it.
It is neither here nor there to me whether Brian Williams reports the news for NBC on a national level in the U.S., but I think getting a second chance would have made him better at his craft; the truth having far more weight than the story.
Politicians sometimes blurt out the wrong words in moments of frustration or emotion, and they are banished to the Siberia of political life—often with their record of accomplishing “good” quickly forgotten.
Forgiveness is a tricky thing as we wade through the muddied waters of finding truth. But I think we are all better for it if we can find a way to forgive rather than to forget..