What’s going on with Tiger and Toyota?

March 17, 2010 | 18 comments

I do a lot of the talking, well, writing! on this blog. But I love to read what you are thinking and have to say. And here’s an issue that has been puzzling me a bit recently…

First, we had the fall of Tiger Woods with the revelations of his girl friends on the side. Tiger was a personality that appeared squeaky clean, highly admired, looked up to by tens of millions of people around the world and seemingly above all the mire and morass so many other famous figures often get tripped up by. But then trouble happened for Tiger too. His ability to earn hundreds of millions of dollars for this highly polished image vanished overnight. I’m not picking on Tiger. As many have argued, he’s human like the rest of us. And that’s not my point really. He has legitimately inspired thousands of golfers with new possibilities for their game.

What caught my attention was when Toyota suddenly went from a similar position Tiger had occupied in the public’s mind of a highly respected institution to suddenly being assaulted with relentless bad publicity. With Tiger, it was about unfaithfulness in his marriage. With Toyota, well, it was about unfaithfulness too…in the corporate giant’s case, of failure to fix its faulty gas pedals before dozens of drivers died from cars speeding out of control.

Two monumental giants fallen from grace overnight and near the same time.

What is going on here? What is the spiritual lesson? Will another giant fall soon, or can a moral/spiritual lesson be learned to prevent it?

Is it about valuing faithfulness, faithfulness to one’s wife, to one’s customers…?

Is it about the public not putting people up on impossible pedestals to maintain in the first place?

Is it about more transparent honesty and integrity?

What is the larger lesson for society? For you and me…?

I’m curious what you have to say.

What do you think? Or have you thought about it?

18 thoughts on “What’s going on with Tiger and Toyota?”

  1. why shouldn’t the giants fall? why should we hope to prevent it? error/fraud is uncovered and, one would hope, corrected. corporations/famous people … why should they be exempt?

  2. When we build on a material foundation, things will fall or fail. Building on trust in God, or seeing that there is only one Mind governing all, we can help everyone feel a higher sense of joy and good. Let’s all see today just what Jesus saw when confronted with evil or sickness or any other thing that keeps us from being the best we can be – that we really are the image and likeness of God. Just like Genesis 1:31 tells us “God saw everything that He had made and … it was very good”. No one is outside of God’s love and we can pray that everyone can see and feel that Love today. Vicki

  3. Toyota and Tiger were icons of excellence. We expected that we could trust they would also be icons of integrity. Just because someone is famous doesn’t exempt them from what God expects of everyone, obedience to His laws of honesty and morality.

  4. Money and power seem to create a feeling of entitlement in some, which results in poor choices and self-seeking endeavors which ultimately fail. Complete faith in God as the Source of all good is what is needed. As I pray to love my neighbor as myself, I pray to know that God’s man can’t be tempted by the belief that money and power are substantial. Pure motives and desires defend each one and keep each one free from the aggressive belief that money and power “entitle” one to act selfishly.

  5. I think all your questions apply.
    The “me” generation has firmly reached control and entitlement is the name of the game. Is there really any difference between a company that put profits ahead of customer safety or a superstar that rotates in his own orbit and outside of the bounds of ethics than with an individual who just mindlessly shoved a shopping cart into someone’s car or walked out in front a moving vehicle with full expectation that it is the drivers responsibility to look out for him — not him look out for oncoming traffic.

    Did hate start with planes flying into the twin towers or did it start with bullying on the play ground?

    To me one is a serpent and the other a great red dragon. Why didn’t we kill it when it was little?
    But, like someone used to say, just because it’s not little anymore doesn’t mean it can’t be undone — it’s just easier to see.

    I say…. “Father, forgive me for I know not what I do”

  6. Sometimes I wonder if these people, who are in the spot light, had the tools or the knowledge to protect themselves from the onslaught of mental malpractice, envy and jealousy that perhaps they would not get into the situations that they do. It is constant and insidious.

    Things come to them, and they think that it is their own thought that is handling them, but it is not. It cannot be if God is Mind. We are all under the control of the one infinite Mind, but we have to listen to that Mind.

  7. In a college class called “History of American Thought,” I read that there couldn’t be a corporation without a conscience as long as there are people in the corporation with a conscience.

    When I was responsible for world-wide marketing and sales of a product group that had more than a 40% share of the world’s market, I found out that a mistake had been made in manufacturing over a three day production run, and it wasn’t caught by quality control before the product had been shipped out to major world markets.

    I learned about this situation at a meeting with our quality assurance and applications engineering departments. Discussions were in process about percentages and probabilities of this fault being caught, and potential quality and financial risks for our customers, or their customers.

    My immediate reaction was the need to protect not only the customers, but also my company’s position of trust as market leader throughout the world. I remembered the definition of “grace” from the Greek dictionary in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to The Bible: “The divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude.”

    I was already grateful for our customers’ choice of my company as a supplier. What I needed to do was to honor their choice by listening to what God’s direction was for my heart at that moment, and to respond to it.

    It was clear that some of the quality managers were considering taking chances that the product fault might not be discovered. I responded that our business decisions were not being made in Las Vegas, and that our responsibility to our customers was not a roll of the roulette wheel or a crapshoot. I also mentioned that it had taken our company years to build up market share based upon our product quality and consistency, and this valuable reputation was not something to be trifled with.

    Then I recommended that we recall the sea container shipments upon their arrival, and that any additional costs for air shipments to keep our customers supplied during this break in normal inventory distribution would be charged to the quality control department’s budget.

    This recommendation was accepted, and not a single customer or salesperson anywhere in the world was hurt by this corrective action. Our quality control department never made a mistake again, and our worldwide market share and pricing was protected.

    We shouldn’t be jealous of giant entities or be overly concerned with famous people. We just need to live a principled life that glorifies God. This is everyone’s job, and we can prayerfully defend other people’s ability to know and do this. It begins with the prayer of listening, and it follows with actions that reflect good choices in our lives. This is the meaning of living a life of grace.

    With no desire to be manipulated by pride or to take stupid chances, there can be no victimization, and no victims.

    This can protect us, our institutions, our government leaders, corporations, and the general quality of life. We all have to make good choices, and stick with them by making further good choices. Most everybody has a dumb or inappropriate idea or picture occur to him or her on occasion. It doesn’t matter if we’re tempted, but it does matter how we respond to the temptation.

    In Matthew, chapter 4, we read about the devil trying to tempt Jesus in several ways. Jesus told him “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” The next verse tells us that the devil left Jesus and angels came and ministered unto him.

    Our work each day is to respond to God’s influences, and not to respond to the various suggestions or temptations that might try to snag or confuse us.

    It’s that simple. It just needs to be done, and it can be done. The Christ is infinitely present to help us.

  8. As someone who has made regrettable mistakes in my life, mistakes that appeared as a long hard fall from grace, I can say that it was never a sense of entitlement, blatant dishonesty, or a careless disregard for the issues of right and wrong. Nor had I “built on material foundations” as one commenter stated. Quite the contrary, I was singularly devoted to God and to serving Him.

    I was as convinced that the error was true. I was certain that God was directing my path. I thought I was being honest and generous. And I was. But I was not being hopeful or kind. I thought I was holding onto hope, when what I was holding on to was the hope that a painful situation would end in happiness, rather than holiness.

    I had become so sure of my own wisdom and so confident in my own spiritual integrity that I was truly convinced that my choices were God-directed and inspired. They were not, but everyone else had become so sure of me and my spiritual wisdom, that no one had the courage to stand up to me and say “the emperor is naked.”

    It is too easy to become convinced of your own goodness when everyone is telling you how wonderful, inspired, and wise you are. The false thoughts that come are very difficult to sort out an see through, from the vantage of a pedestal. Celebrity, popularity, and acclaim are the worst enemies of the spiritual thinker. Humility is his best friend.

    I had neither money or power and I did not feel entitled. as another commentor suggested must be the case when someone makes these kinds of judgment errors. I wanted to end a painful situation, and make others happy, and I allowed myself to think that I was doing what was right under the circumstances. That in the end my choices would benefit everyone, even if they couldn’t see it as clearly as I did at the time.

    Believing in your own ability to see into the future, is fatal. I turned to God every step of the way, and yet I can clearly see that there were moments when I was confused, and rather than patiently wait for clearer direction, I allowed suggestions to convince me that I needed to push forward a plan, when I should have stood still.

    Continued below.

  9. continued from above:

    I don’t think anyone is immune from the workings of animal magnetism. I don’t think we can point fingers as corporations or famous people, sure that they were just so full of themselves and selfish that they blatantly walked in the ways of materialism and selfishness.

    When we stand back and point a finger at others, so sure that we would never do what they are doing, there are three more fingers pointing back at us. We have accepted the belief that those wrong choices and decisions were personal, and personal sense isn’t picky. If it can get us to consent to its reality, it has already walked into our back door and taken a seat at the kitchen table.

    Judging others with the certainty that we are too wise or holy to make their mistakes, while beholding their iniquity and holding it in thought about them, is like saying “thou fool” And this is the one act that Jesus has the harshest words for.

    What we hold in thought about others most weakens our own citadel of spiritual integrity.

    The thing that would have been the most helpful to me at the time, would have been for the people who loved me to call me and ask me about my choices. When I started to make excuses, to have asked me to explain myself clearly and in a spiritually reasoned way that was consistent with what they knew were my principles and values. When I began to pull back from seeing them, they could have helped me walk into the light of their friendship and not allows me to hide away behind the mask of spiritual hierarchy.

    I think that what I most learned was that when I spend most of my time concerned about the choices and actions of others, I am distracted from being self-aware. I stop asking myself, “Am I living the life that approaches the supreme good?” And begin asking rhetorical questions about other people’s behavior and then weighing in on it hypothetically. Today I have too much of my own salvation work to do to judge someone else’s behavior. I can be a good friend, model the best behavior I know how, and “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God”.

    I realize that this is more than you asked for, but I thought it might be helpful to have the perspective of someone who has made mistakes, paid dearly for them, and is now walking very humbly and staying close to the ground. No more pedestals. I avoid them like the plague.

  10. By the way Evan, thank you for providing this forum for sharing perspective on this issue. It has been years for me, but I still feel the sorrow and regret of that experience more than your readers might expect after such a long time.

    I hope that my sharing my sadness and some thoughts about others might help someone who is mired in confusion and heading towards a fall from grace, I might find some new window on salvation.

  11. It surprises me that a society that values celebrity and the kind of reality TV voyeurism we see so rampant today – shows that celebrate the most base kinds of human behavior – is so horrified and self-righteous about a celebrity that acts out the same kind of sadness in his life, that they are watching day and night. A viewer base so enormous and viral that cable advertising dollars are being thrown at these shows in the billions and billions of dollars.

    If we value it as consumers, why are we so angry about it being played out by someone we believe has value (and values)?

    We can’t consume it as viewers in one instance and reject it as distasteful on the other hand. Either it is of value to us, or it isn’t. It isn’t about the specific people or organizations, it is about what we are cherishing in individual and collective consciousness.

  12. You seem to struggle more and more to make a spiritual point Evan.

    It’s always about humility. Feet on the ground. And what happens when you get too far above the ground. Stumble, then you — or it — fall.

    Someone or something can fall only so far as it is artificially held above it’s natural (i.e., spiritual) resting point.

    Vintage golden-calf idolatry supports endorsement and prize-money compensation to athletes such as Eldrich Woods.

    And once the image of the idolized becomes tarnished in the opinion of the idolaters, the idolatry crumbles just as quickly as it built up. Then people incredulously ask why, how could that happen? What is the lesson to be learned?

    In the specific case of Toyota, Toyotas have been overvalued (i.e., idolized) in comparison to competitive products. I noticed this in 1989, first in comparison to Hondas, and now including Fords and Chevrolets. That overvaluation, as reflected by price, artificially elevated Toyota above it’s competitors in public opinion.

    Secondly, Toyota just happens to be first and foremost right now in hitting the wall of unintended consequences with the increasing complexity of electro-mechanical systems controlled by computer modules. Other carmakers will inevitably follow.

    That comes about because the buying public increasingly wants features associated with ‘luxury’ cars even in base-model vehicles.

    So the short answer to the question “What’s going on with Tiger and Toyota” involves first looking in a mirror to determine if you were complicit in the personal or technological idolization of the two.

  13. what he/she said!! The comment above is a response that perfectly states what I’d like to have said, but couldn’t find the right words. Kudos

  14. There is a long post in there about a “fall from grace” and judging. It confuses me. I do not know the details of Tiger or Toyota, but I don’t see how we are judging them by noting that immorality or dishonesty causes hurt, distrust, harm, etc. That said, we are NOT judging hearts or worth here and that was not Evan’s question.

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