Humble, ready-for-prison Martha Stewart is `a good thing'

Last word

Now she and we can move ahead

September 19, 2004|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,SUN STAFF

Martha Stewart's decision to enter prison immediately is, as she so often said about her elaborate domestic projects, "a good thing."

Good because it expedites for both her and her company an inevitable watershed experience, and gives both the hope of a recovery that can begin sooner rather than later.

But good also because it gives the rest of us a chance to repent our perhaps harsh judgment of this lady, based as it was on gossip about her bad-tempered diva-dom.

Let's face it - Martha Stewart isn't going to jail for mass murder or for selling drugs to children, and she isn't going away for the rest of her life.

She was convicted of committing a white-collar crime written in fine print, and she will be out of prison in the blink of the public eye, though surely it will seem longer to her.

By declaring herself ready for prison even before her appeals are exhausted, she is doing what David Novak, a former Microsoft consultant who spent a year in prison and who now counsels white-collar prisoners, says she should do.

"You need to let go," he told People magazine after Stewart was convicted. "Give up the fight, accept responsibility for the decisions that put you here."

This is not to suggest that Martha Stewart has reached the level of enlightenment that would cause her to admit guilt. But give her credit for seeing the damage that dragging out this business is doing to her family and her employees and deciding to stop it now.

That is a Martha Stewart we have not seen before - and that, too, is a good thing.

As anyone who is facing prison might be, she was wistful and sentimental during the press conference announcing her decision. And she said that this decision means she will be out of prison in time for spring planting.

It is a serendipitous kind of summing up for Martha Stewart: She, her company and the earth, too, can look forward to a rebirth.

That is the kind of hope - and humility - that nature teaches us all.

And that, too, is a good thing.

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