Friday, September 23, 2011
More Lessons from Troy Davis - Why Don't We Correct Mistakes
As I keep reminiscing over Troy Davis, I realize something else is at play. Our collective willingness to not correct a mistake when confronted with evidence that we might have been wrong.
What happened in Georgia was arrogance disguised as justice. Despite being confronted with facts that put heavy doubt into their decision, the Georgia parole board decided to deny appeal after appeal because they supported the system instead of correct a terrible miscarriage.
Yet I'm reminded that this isn't restricted to people in power. Too often, we don't like being proven wrong and especially in public. I remember when I tried to correct a teacher publicly on a mistake during summer camp and I was promptly punished (I didn't think I said it arrogantly but folks said I did. Def. not my intent.).
The fact is almost nobody likes to be shamed or proving wrong. I had a hard time when somebody else looked at my papers in college or edited my stories at the newspaper and found a mistake. It's humbling and some folks have a hard time with it since it can suggest a lack of trust despite it's good intentions.
Think of all the blown calls in sports that could've been corrected with video evidence. Armando Galarragga's perfect game last year had the umpire openly admit he made a mistake on what should've been the last out. Yet MLB refused to adjust the official scoring. It's arrogance and fear of making folks look bad and looking like you don't trust human element instead of do the right thing.
Sometimes mistakes are good for art or music. But in situations where a lot more is at stake such as integrity, it's better to get it as right than live with a mistake. Too many people act like the Fonz and have trouble saying they were wrong. I'd rather be humbled and be wrong than arrogantly think I'm right and fight to protect that.
I leave you with this, we can correct mistakes on our bodies and tests but we won't correct something more important like a possible conviction or execution sentence with doubt. We won't admit we were wrong on an opinion when confronted with strong evidence to the contrary. Yet folks will correct the trivial matters.
Just one more thing we can learn from Troy Davis. Don't be afraid of being proven wrong or prove somebody wrong in love. The alternative is worse.