We’ve all seen it and sometimes we see it coming.  The person who has it all, many times working hard, sometimes it comes easier than it does to others, either in talent in terms of skills, smarts, athletics or something else.  The fame and success sets in, the attitude changes, sometimes arrogance or a feeling of “I can do anything get by with it.” The individual get lazy or sloppy, they make one bad choice after another, there may be people who try to stop them before it’s too late and sometimes they can’t and they loose it all or at least those things that matter most.  It’s almost like seeing a Greek Tragedy played out in real time.  

     Sam Bankman Fried is a graduate of the MIT, the son of two Stanford Law School professors.  He was smart beyond his years and was ranked as one of the wealthiest people in America at one time.  He was known for his crypto currency company and his large political contributions.  The success got the best of him, he started conducting fraudulent activities, a former girlfriend and business associate tipped off the FEDS and as of March 28, 2024, he is now an incarcerated and convicted criminal at the young age of thirty-two serving a twenty-five year sentence in a federal penitentiary.  The overtly entitled young man will most likely serve about 12.5 years depending on his behavior behind bars.  He had success, he had the money, he had the listening ear of influential people and he got greedy and used to getting by with bad behavior.  He bragged about his brash way of doing business and it all caught up to him. Whether it was parents giving in to him from an early age or him having a sense of “the rules don’t apply to me,” it’s hard to tell but letting him by with bad behavior did him no favors and now his parents will have to live with the fact that their child won’t see the light of day for at least another 12.5 years, he is a convicted felon and they will be able to see him on visiting days only.  Even in letters to news agencies and to the judge, his mother refused to see her son’s bad behavior, blaming others for his arrest and sentence.  So maybe his parents didn’t see it coming but others did. So much talent but no regard for the law or his investors. 

Tonya Harding on the left and her toughest competition, Nancy Kerrigan.

     Tonya Harding worked hard to succeed in the world of figure skating.  She came from a rough background.  Her father worked several jobs between bouts of bad health and her mom worked as a waitress to support the family and sewed her daughter’s skating costumes to save money.  It was in early January in 1996 at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan when her toughest competitor, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked which later was found out to have been a hired hit job by Harding’s ex-husband and body guard, with Harding having knowledge of the arrangement, in hopes of injuring the championship skater so that Tonya could have an easier path to a title. When it all shook out, after many jokes and the subject of late night comedy, Tonya Harding’s name and reputation was tarnished. All these years later and if you were around in 1996, your perception of Harding maybe that of someone who could have made so much of their life, having worked so hard to come so far from her hard life in Portland, Oregon, yet lost so much in the quest for success.  Since then, Tonya has tried to recover from the black-eye on her career and personal life by boxing, wrestling and special appearances on a variety of reality television shows. Harding now builds decks and works as a commercial  painter.  One has to give her credit for working hard to support herself, but it could have been so much easier if she could have realized that she could have had an easier path, had she not made one bad choice after another.  She created her own problems and may look back wishing she hadn’t been so eager to cheat to win at someone else’s expense.  

     Anthony Weiner moved up the ranks in New York politics and became a United States congressman.  He was married to a smart and  beautiful woman and is the father of a son with her.  He seemed to have it all, moved in the coveted political circles in New York and Washington DC and most likely had a very promising future in this arena with a beautiful family by his side, until he was involved in a sexual texting scandal.  He tarnished not only his own image but that too of his wife and child.  The couple separated and are still settling their divorce years later privately to avoid attention for their son.  Anthony is the son of a Brooklyn lawyer father and school teacher mother. After his embarrassing behavior, he became the butt of jokes and also made easy material for late night comedians. He himself created the demise of his promising professional career and marriage.  Maybe some saw it coming, in arrogance or attitude but he couldn’t and foolishly thought that he could get by with the bad behavior.  Wrong.  In this day and age of social media and twenty four hour news, his name will always be associated with a sex scandal.  It’s sad that his poor judgement not only affects himself but that of his family and probably extended family.  

Alexander Hamilton, one of this country’s founding fathers. Born in Nevis in the Caribbean, he came to America eager to make a name for himself. He did, but didn’t realize that he had it all until he had it lost the things were important.

      The list is long of people in history whose bad judgement or complete lack of judgement contributed to their own downfall.  We all make mistakes and stumble in life.  Some mistakes and lapses in judgments are less noticeable or less damaging than other.  The wise person tries to minimize these errors and tries to navigate the mishaps in life with the least amount of damage to themself and those closest to them and hopefully, learning from their mistakes.  However, there are some who just don’t and get bolder in their slips in judgement, not learning from the mistakes of the past.  In the Broadway musical, Hamilton, about the life of early American patriot, Alexander Hamilton, we see Hamilton as one who although wise and smart with finances beyond his years and the verbal skills of a scholar, yet he can’t learn to keep from getting involved in arguments and he makes a series of bad choices.  He not only doesn’t learn from his mistakes but he misses the mark on teaching his son to steer away from this type of behavior, which in turn, causes him to loose his own life, leaving Alexander and his wife brokenhearted when he is shot in a duel. Hamilton also falls prey to a scheme or the enticement of a woman who he has an affair with.  When she and her husband threaten to expose the extra-marital relationship, he gives them hush money.  The relationship is exposed, nonetheless, and Hamilton’s wife is devastated to find how her husband behaved while she was in upstate New York with their children at her parents’ country house. Hamilton’s poor choices and his unwillingness to learn from his mistakes cost him.  It wasn’t until he had lost the trust of his wife and his professional reputation did he realize how good he had it. His life ended when he himself lost in a duel with Aaron Burr.  His faults and unwillingness to learn from them ended up costing him and even his life in the end.  

     Life is full of challenges and choices.  Each one of us has the freedom everyday to choose how we will live out each day.  We can make the most of our days by making an intentional effort to respect those we interact with and have respect for ourselves by trying to stay out of trouble.  There are times when trouble or hardship finds us when the unexpected happens, an unforeseen accident, an out of the blue diagnosis or a tragedy that happens to us or someone close to us. In these circumstances, we have no choice but to get through the best we can, protecting our loved ones and ourselves as much as possible.  When we loose our footing or make errors along the path of life, we refocus, learning from what we have experienced and move forward, asking for forgiveness when needed.  A person can spend years building a good reputation in a community and it can be lost so quickly. In life, it’s important to repair any broken relationships or trust sincerely and make amends towards anyone hurt or injured.  Those who apologize and mean it, not just feeling remorse that they were caught, are more likely to win back trust and respect if they humble themselves in sincerity. Those who blame others or refuse to repair a bad situation will reap what they sow and may not gain their reputation back, loosing friends and credibility.  One has to ask, “how much is it worth?” Restoring trust when it has been lost can lead to many great days and a return to some restful night sleep.  It may even make one appreciate what they had and might even eventually lead to some Great Days ❤️ 

Author, Mary Yana Burau ✏️