What about forgiveness? Do we believe in forgiveness as a foundational philosophy or only selectively. Specifically Michael Vick. Can we forgive him? Should he be forgiven?
I'm an animal lover and think dogs are almost human (often much nicer than humans), and I believe that animal cruelty is heinous. Animals are at our mercy and will do anything to please us, even follow us to their death for our pleasure or convenience. I can't think of much worse on earth than training dogs to become vicious fighters purely for the entertainment of men.
Yet I'm going to forgive Michael Vick. The reason is that one of the absolutes of my life is based on forgiveness. I've been forgiven (by friends, family, God and strangers) too many times to count. I didn't do the same awful thing Vick did but I've done things that were selfish, that caused pain and that lacked integrity. Still I've been forgiven.
Where is the dividing line between what we can forgive and what we can't? Who gets to make the call? I guess each of us does. But if we base this on a sliding scale instead of as a universal principle, there will never be order, justice, restoration or peace in the world.
I admit I might not have been able to forgive Vick as quickly if I didn't believe he was truly remorseful. I don't believe we need to be fools in order to be truly forgiving. If people do harmful things and don't show genuine regret—don't make changes, we'd be fools to forgive them. But when they demonstrate sorrow and seek redemption, I believe we should forgive them.
Most of us simply can't imagine the horrors of dog fighting or conceive of why anyone would find it entertaining, much less passionately promote it. I don't believe in using a bunch of psycho-babble about blaming our past for present mistakes, but after learning a bit about the pervasiveness of these events, it seems to be an insidious and perfectly acceptable practice in parts of American culture. Vick's childhood culture.
Michael Vick participated in some atrocious behavior and we would hope that on some level, every human being would just know it was wrong. But if all your role models and peers from earliest memory demonstrated that they condoned something, it would be challenging to go against the grain.
Vick lost millions of dollars, more than a year of his life and his reputation. He appears to realize this and appears to have genuine remorse. Tony Dungy, a former NFL coach who reaches out to men through prison ministry, believes in Vick's redemption. He's not a fool, so I'll trust his judgment and believe too.
Griping and protesting at football games where Vick plays will do little to rectify this monstrous cultural practice. But allowing Vick to educate and enlighten may be the biggest agent of change that could possibly have happened. For me, forgiveness is not a selective process. I believe Michael Vick is remorseful and I forgive him.