Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pride Before the Fall

The word "pride' can take on a couple of different meanings depending on it's context.  We can have pride in our city, state, and country, we can have school pride, and we can be proud of our children's accomplishments.  But pride is also one of the seven deadly sins. Proverbs 16:18 tells us "Pride comes before the fall." Being prideful is considered a flaw of temperament; associated with someone who stubbornly believes themselves to be above others, above scrutiny, above fault. And certainly, if you set yourself up to be above fault, you are setting yourself up for a major fall.

And so now we are told by the NRHA that deposed president Allen Mitchels is filing suit against the association following the judge tampering scandal that began in January.  We discussed the situation in "A Tale of  Corruption and High Stakes..." and then again in "The First Female President."   In a statement on the NRHA website: "On February 2, 2012, Allen Mitchels filed suit against the National Reining Horse Association due to actions taken by its Board of Directors on January 21, 2012. By advice of legal counsel, NRHA will not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit as long as the matter is in litigation."  Because no details of the investigation have been made public, there is no way of knowing what evidence the Board of Directors used to make its decision, but it would seem a foregone conclusion that the NRHA made that decision based on legal counsel, lengthy discussion of the rules and bylaws, as well as the good common sense that got them appointed to the BOD in the first place.

They must have found some pretty damning evidence, because they didn't just remove him from office; they removed him from the Teaching Panel and the Judges Committee, took away his judge's card, and gave him a lifetime ban from holding a position of authority in the NRHA.  In handing out this harsh sentence, they are making a statement that the NRHA is committed to fair dealings at its competitions, and that the rules will be followed, regardless of position or influence. In administering this decisive removal of Mitchels, and removing him from any involvement in the association, they are also making an attempt to move forward without the hindrances involved in having someone on board who might taint the image of NRHA.  Wouldn't it be great if that really was the end of it?

Mr. Mitchels surely thinks he has a case, and probably has a lawyer telling him that he does.  But perhaps his pride is motivating him to go after an association that he previously claimed allegiance to.  No doubt he is embarrassed, angry, and feels a sense of entitlement to the position that he previously held.  But his pride serves no one.  If he goes after the association and he loses, he will have incurred a huge legal bill, wasted everyone's time, and he will still be that guy who got thrown out of office.  If he manages to win, he will be the guy that wasted association funds on a legal battle, he will potentially decimate an association that doesn't need to lose members and money, and he will STILL have a tarnished reputation.  Whatever they found that he did was enough to make them throw the book at him - what can he say that will make his reputation shiny and clean again?  Many people that I have talked to have said that Mr. Mitchels was known for this type of behavior, so I have to say, the cat's out of the bag now.  Suing the NRHA isn't going to get him judging jobs, it isn't going to put him back in good standing with the membership, and it isn't going to get him his old job back. 

Being prideful can drive a person to seek revenge, because they would rather exact vengeance on others than face the fact that they are, in fact, flawed or have made a mistake.  It takes courage in accepting your own faults, along with humility and service to others, to overcome pride-fullness.  If Mr. Mitchels really wants to clean up his reputation, he should consider taking a humbler course, withdrawing his suit, and accepting responsibility for his actions.  That would be the course that would best serve the membership, rather than one that is rooted in proud denial, and threatens the association that just 45 days ago he pledged loyalty to.  No one wins when the attitude is, "I'm not going down without a fight...."