To Err is Human

1 Oct 2019

We've all been there, haven't we? That moment when we realise we've made a terrible mistake and that the world is about to fall down!

Sometimes it's only a minor mistake, yet the consequences are horrendous.

I still remember the moment, more than thirty years ago, coming up to a roundabout and not knowing which turning to take. I looked back from the road sign to the actual road ahead and realised I was about to crash into car in front. There was no possible way I was going to stop in time.

Screeeeeech... Crunch...

That day, thank goodness, the cost was minor. Three people were shaken up a little and a few car repairs had to be made. There was nothing worse but I still have a horror of complicated roundabouts and give daily thanks to Google Maps.

Sometimes the consequences are emotional: that time we say something we wish we could take back. Or the time our error incurs a £100 fine.

I've written about self-loathing before: that spiral down into black despairing hatred, often triggered by something minor, but this is about the bigger things.

We all make mistakes.

How would you behave if someone ran into your car from behind, because they weren't looking where they were going? How do you react when someone blurts out a hurtful comment? How would you feel if you had to pay £100 because someone you trusted got it wrong?

Maybe it would depend on the attitude of the offending party.

I still remember the kindness of the man I ran into on that roundabout. He lived just around the corner and he took my passenger and me to his home where his wife gave us hot tea while he phoned the police and the recovery services (this was before the age of mobile phones, remember).

I remember the recent graciousness of a friend, when I made an ill-considered comment. She texted the same day to let me know I'd hurt her and gave me an opening to apologise and make amends.

The fine was paid by me because my dental practice inadvertently processed my treatment under the wrong schedule. I had signed where told to, and I had signed in error. Mea Culpa – I should have read more carefully. They have apologised, but they are not liable for that fine: I am.

The police were called to that road accident thirty-odd years ago. The fatherly policeman explained that I would not be prosecuting for dangerous driving. "Here in Yorkshire," he said, "We understand that anyone can make a mistake."

My friend accepted my apology and I have learned from that mistake.

The dental practice has promised to learn from their mistake and hopefully I will check more carefully before signing on the dotted line marked X.

Yes, we all make mistakes.

We forgive the mistakes of others and must forgive ourselves too for our own mistakes.

To err is human. To forgive is human too.


A Moodscope member.

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