A Filipino priest, visiting the north of Scotland, found a small hotel and decided to spend the night there. The hotel was so small that the owner was himself the whole staff. After the priest signed and registered, the proprietor took his bag and led him up three flights of stairs to his room.
Over the old brass bed hung a large oil painting that delighted the priest. “What a beautiful portrait of our Holy Father the Pope!” he exclaimed. The Scottish scowled and muttered under his breath, “The miserable old fox!”
Shocked, the Filipino priest admonished, “I hope you are not referring to His Holiness.” The Scottish replied angrily, “Certainly not. I am referring to the person who sold me the picture and told me it was Robert Burns in his royal Masonic regalia!”
It was a case of mistaken identity, indeed. But what do you think of this next story: The New York Times recalled a rather embarrassing event that reportedly occurred some 40 years ago to Britain’s then foreign secretary, George Brown. In Peru for a reception, and quite intoxicated, Brown invited a guest in flowing purple robes to dance, but he was rebuffed.
“First, you are drunk,” the guest is said to have replied. “Second, this is not a waltz; it is the Peruvian national anthem. And third, I am not a woman; I am Cardinal Archbishop of Lima.”
“When we commit a gross piece of stupidity, we call it ‘an honest mistake’ – as if most other people make dishonest mistakes,” Sydney Harris once said. Joseph Gancher is on the rescue when he pointed out, “Making mistakes isn’t stupid. Disregarding them is.”
“To err is human,” Alexander Pope declared. As such, no one is perfect. We are living in a world that is imperfect. Even if a person is living a good life, there are those who still want to unearth some gossipy tales. “He can’t be that good,” they usually surmise.
Because it cannot please everyone, a travel guide puts this warning in its editorial page: “Just in case you find any mistakes in the magazine, please remember they were put there for a purpose. We try to offer something for everyone. Some people are always looking for mistakes.”
We call these people critics. “Lots of faults we think we see in others are simply the ones we expect to find there because we have them,” Frank A. Clark reminds. After all, it’s 100 times easier to criticize than to create.
“Don’t worry about your mistakes,” Robert D. Hahn said. “Some of the dullest people don’t make any.” Norman Vincent Peale encourages, “No matter what mistakes you may have made – no matter how you’ve messed things up – you still can make a new beginning. The person who fully realizes this suffers less from the shock and pain of failure and sooner gets off to a new beginning.”
We must not overlook the untold benefits that can be derived from mistakes. You should never hesitate to own you have been wrong, which is but saying in other words that you are wiser today than you were yesterday, because of your mistake.
There are six mistakes that we, human beings, are bound to commit, according to Cicero. These are: (1) The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others; (2) The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected; (3) Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it; (4) Refusing to set aside trivial preferences; (5) Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study; and (6) Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
If ever you done something wrong to another person, the best thing you can do is to ask for forgiveness. More often than not, because of our pride, doing so is the hardest thing to do but that is the right thing to do. “Please, forgive me.” “I am sorry.” Whichever of these three words you will utter; it will definitely do the trick.
Back in the days of the American Revolution, General George Washington had a good friend who was a church pastor. It so happened that the minister had an enemy in town who did everything he could to abuse and oppose him.
After some years, the evil man was arrested for treason and sentenced to death. When the minister heard of this, he walked 70 miles to the capital to plead for the man’s life. But Washington said, “No, I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”
“My friend?” the minister exclaimed. “He is the bitterest enemy I ever have.” Washington was surprised hearing those words. “You mean that you have walked 70 miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I hereby grant his pardon.”
When David perpetrated the greatest mistake of his career as king of Israel – by sending the husband of Bathsheba in the battle to get killed so he can have the wife – he asked forgiveness from God and sincerely repented.
David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not case me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalms 51:10-12).
“To forgive is divine,” Alexander Pope again said. “A forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note, torn in two and burned up, so that it never can be shown against the man,” noted Henry W. Beecher.
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