Money can make you stupid. Lots of money can make you really stupid. Not stupid
intellectually for there are lots of wealthy people who have brilliant minds. I am speaking of moral stupidity, and judging by much of the commentary on Tiger Woods, we have a country amply supplied with moral idiots.
Money does not force you to be stupid. It doesn't have that kind of absolute power, but it does tempt, deceive, and cause us to believe we are the ultimate reference point in the universe. Rick Warren's famous tag line that "It's not about you" is not as popular as we would like to believe.
Before this sordid story unfolded, I was in that group of people who were awed by Tiger's abilities, but regularly wondered how a guy of such athletic prowess keeps his feet firmly planted in reality. Tiger's entourage benefits greatly from his abilities so who among them in their right mind would dare question Tiger? His fellow golfers, endorsers, and the media make loads of money off of Tiger (many have unashamedly said as much), so again, no honest input would seem forthcoming. Jesper Parnevik is an exception. Parnevik has voiced outrage over Tiger's wanderlust, but Jesper is easy to discount. After all, it was Jesper who first introduced Tiger to his wife Elin. And Jesper can further be dismissed as bitter over his own present struggles to remain competitive as a PGA player.
Lots of money allows you to steer clear of having to do undesirable tasks. Marx (Groucho not Karl) had much wisdom to share about the follies of money: "Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy." Tiger can evade undesirable tasks like cleaning his golf clubs or mowing the yard. But the most undesirable task for him, and all of us, is internal in nature not external. When we avoid looking honestly into our interior life we do so at great risk to ourselves and those closest to us.
It is encouraging to see many people upset over the adulteries Tiger committed. Those are, as Tiger rightly noted, "sins." Many in the media would be wise to spend some time considering Tiger's choice of words.
On the other hand, it is nauseating to hear how Tiger's abilities to escape tight and treacherous lies on the golf links will put him on a self-corrective course (no pun intended) with this present challenge. Blasting your deeply imbedded ball out of a bunker is tough, but looking honestly at your own secret passions is much more formidable.
Yes, lots of money can make you stupid. And yes, our American landscape does seem glutted with moral knuckleheads. However, I do pray Tiger gets wise counsel from those who are willing to speak the kind of truth he and all of us so desperately need.
David Moore is the author most recently of THE LAST MEN'S BOOK YOU'LL EVER NEED. His next book, GET TO KNOW BILL, is on his unlikely friendship with the late William F. Buckley.