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The month was September, the year 2011. After beginning the season as a favorite to win the World Series, the Boston Red Sox had suffered the worst collapse in baseball history, losing almost every game in the final month of the season. “Well,” All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez told reporters, “God didn’t have it in the cards for us.”
Gonzalez’s comment sparked rage throughout the Red Sox fan base. Perhaps it was his dismal performance at the end of the season. Maybe it was the fact that the pitching staff had been sitting in the clubhouse drinking beers as the team floundered. More likely, however, is that fans were reacting to Gonzalez’s characterization of the collapse as inevitable.
Gonzalez’s refusal to accept responsibility for failing represents a common human desire. Whenever possible we try to avoid blame, escape culpability for mishaps. This makes sense: nobody wants to be held accountable for actions she did not commit. Admitting fault is an unpleasant experience, one we generally try to avoid when unnecessary.
This tendency becomes problematic, though, when a person tries to cover up his own errors. Gonzalez’s description of his team’s abysmal performance as “God’s will” attempted to shirk responsibility for the collapse. In his view, the team’s lack of effort, dysfunctional behavior, and overall failure to deliver were somebody else’s fault. That was just how things were meant to be, and neither he nor the team had held any control over it.
Though some people may truly subscribe to a determinist view of the world, it is fair to say we have influence over our decisions. We act by evaluating different choices of conduct and choosing whichever fits the situation. Our choices have consequences, sometimes ones we might not foresee. In reality, we do not always make the best decisions—more often than not, we end up doing the opposite. This is what makes us human.
The most important part of making mistakes is how we react to them. If we fall short, we need to own up to our shortcoming. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s humiliating. As tempting as it is to invoke some higher power and absolve ourselves of responsibility, this only exacerbates the problem. Oftentimes, others end up taking the blame for errors we can’t admit to committing. Those around us come to resent us for our immaturity.
Here’s to accepting responsibility for our actions. Let’s stop describing our mistakes as bizarre twists of fate. Mr. Gonzalez, the team didn’t fail because it wasn’t meant to be. It collapsed because everybody stopped trying. Next year, Red Sox Nation wishes you the best of luck with your new team.
So what do you think? Do you know someone who likes to invoke fate like this? Let me know in the comments section below! As always, please like, share, or reblog this post if you enjoy it. Be sure to check me out on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for new content every Wednesday!
Comment question of the week
What crazy things have you heard described as bizarre twists of fate?