Sunday, August 16, 2009

Michael Vick and the Ideal of Forgiveness

One of the consistent themes in the Michael Vick 'saga', whether you are pro or con, is the notion of forgiveness. Many have brought up the 'debt' that Vick has 'paid' to society through his time spent at Leavenworth and the time he may have spent 'thinking' about what he had done. At the same time, it seems that many people want to embrace the mantra of 'forgive and forget'.

Except this time.

I have never been a big fan of the 'forgive and forget' school of attitudes, because if someone has wronged you, why would you ever want to forget that? The problem is, of course, that there are a lot of people who want neither to forgive nor forget. Forgive? Absolutely, since we are called to do by God to 'forgive those who trespass against us'. That does beg the question - against whom exactly did Vick trespass? The dogs, certainly, but they don't have the ability to forgive.

Thus we tend to embody society as a victim of trespassing on the part of Vick, but we always must be careful not to overplay that; the reason is that sin and wrongdoing is personal, and therefore the recipient is often on a personal level as well. Dog owners may be disgusted by everything that happened, and may take it personally, but there is a unnecessary tendency to over-dramatize how personal it is.

The dangers are shown in the excessive hand-wringing (and hypocrisy - but that's a different post) that we are seeing on the part of many fans, dog-lovers, and assorted others who have decided to inject themselves into the story (i.e. PETA). The hand-wringing has bothered me because the people indulging in it have a) decided that the time Vick has served 'cannot ever be enough'; that is, they want him to continuously suffer personally for it, and b) want to remind him of it at every possible turn. The latter is more reasonable, as it is an indicator of his wrongdoings, which is fine, but the desire to perpetually punish someone becomes unreasonable; eventually people are going to have to get past it.

In other words, you forgive, but you never forget.

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