"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." -Paul Boese
Last night Michael Vick led the Eagles to a big victory over the Redskins. This morning when I checked Facebook many people were sounding off that Michael Vick does not deserve to be playing in the NFL after serving a 21 month prison sentence (plus 2 months of house arrest) for running a dog fighting ring when he was playing for the Falcons.
For some reason, this debate struck a cord with me and I thought about it during my swim this morning. I am an animal lover. Nothing disgusts me more than people mistreating animals. I tend to cry harder watching movies or documentaries when they are about animals. I think it is the fact that animals rely on us and trust us. When they are mistreated and abused they can't defend themselves. The things that Michael Vick did are absolutely heinous. No matter what he does in life everyone will remember the acts that he committed when he was younger. If you do a google search of his name and click on "images" pictures of abused and tortured pitbulls come up. He will never be able to make people forget that he ran a business that tortured and killed animals for money. Based on the things he did this punishment is deserved.
In addition, many people believe that he should not being playing football anymore. They believe he should not make millions of dollars and be glorified by the sports media as a great athlete. I disagree. He should be able to work; the glorification part---that is another issue independent of Vick. He went to prison for 21 months. He lost friends. He lost his contract with the Atlanta Falcons. He lost millions of dollars. He paid for what he did and then some. He deserves the right to work. His job is playing football. You can argue that he does not deserve to make millions but if you make that argument than you need to ask yourself if all football players should make millions of dollars. If he worked at the local grocery store before going to prison and then got out and went back to work at the grocery store would you be upset that he was back working for $10-15 an hour? Or, is it just the fact that he committed a terrible crime, went to prison, got out and went back to work in a job that pays more than most people will ever make in a lifetime?
Michael Vick should be an example. An example of someone who made a series of bad decisions, got caught, paid the price and is now trying to show us that you can change and you can learn from your mistakes. I admit, I could eat my words on this point. He could be arrested in the next few years for a crime and you all could say "I told you so." I want to believe that Michael Vick has matured and learned from his mistakes. He is working with the Humane Society to get the word out on dog fighting and how terrible it is. He needs our forgiveness and compassion. This does not mean that we condone what he did. If he learned something from all of this he probably lives with regret everyday. He was probably begging people to give him a chance, to believe in him and support him while he made changes in his life. He wanted to go back to work to support his family and make things right. The Eagles are giving him that chance. I cannot imagine the number of teams that said no thinking it would be a PR nightmare to offer him a contract. Someone took a chance and I hope he proves them right. I want to believe in the good in people. I want to believe that we can make mistakes (haven't we all?) and learn from them and carry on.
"There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I got to live with that." (Morgan Freeman as Red in The Shawshank Redemption)
It is easier to let things go and forgive. To move on and not harbor resentment or hate. We will never forget what Michael Vick did to those animals....and neither will he.
“Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others.” -Buddha