I have a friend. I look to this friend, quite often, as an inspiration for how to do the right thing. She is a fierce advocate of doing good, and it's more than a little daunting imagining trying to live up to the standard that she sets.
The other day, she mis-stepped. I don't think she would deny it. But the way that she handled being called out on it showed the way that genuine people act.
There is a standard that has been set, particularly on the internet: Put up a good public front, get caught out saying or doing something inappropriate. Good front goes out the window, and it's into full damage-control mode. Supporters support, pedals are run in reverse, and eventually, there is a sullen non-apology where the person apologizes for hurt feelings rather than for the action. And the world keeps turning.
Contrast that with how my friend behaved. She was called out, she admitted it was inappropriate, removed the offending material, and asked her friends not to defend her; she accepted that she had done something she regretted. No PR, no bullshit, just an apology, an attempt to make amends, and an effort to minimize collateral damage.
Being a good person doesn't mean never making mistakes. It doesn't mean never making bad decisions, or saying things that you will regret. What it does mean is that when poor behaviour or bad decisions are pointed out, you work to make it better. No deflections, no hiding behind the shield -- or comforting yourself in the happy delusions -- provided by well-meaning friends who will always think the best of you.
And my friend, from whom I've learned so much, has taught me through her actions about integrity in error.