Wife. Mother, Teacher and Writer. My heroes: Anne Shirley, Sarah Crewe, Patty Bergen, Elizabeth Bennett, Laura Ingalls, Thomas More, Ignatius of Loyola, Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, CS Lewis and Stonewall Jackson. Thank you for reading!Here's Alice's contribution, the first of what I hope will be many more!
But For The Grace
I've been listening to a bit of sports radio lately. My husband, Chris, has it on in the Pilot so, when I drive that car, I catch up on how the other half thinks. I don't know about you but I find it truly amazing that men can remember every important sports moment and have an opinion on everything related to, say, football, but can never seem to remember the details of a conversation--like the name of a friend's new baby. Truly a mystery, no?
But that's not the subject of this post. Yesterday, when I turned the key and backed out of the driveway, host Colin Cowherd was talking about Michael Vick. He was commenting that he couldn't go so far as to say that MV is evil, he simply assumes that Vick is missing something in his brain, an important part, one that would tell him that something like watching two dogs tear each other apart is evil. I'm guessing that Cowherd was responding to a call about Michael Vick's new contract. Perhaps the caller brought up Vick's transgressions and the "injustice" of his multi-million dollar paycheck in light of his past. I don't know. What I do know is that Cowherd's comments made me cringe--a feeling that had less to do with the specifics of Michael Vick and his circumstances than with the enormous lack of a sense of "there, but for the grace of God, go I" that I encounter over and over in my life.
There's a big difference between making a judgement about an action by saying something like, "abortion is wrong" or "living together outside of marriage is sinful" and making a judgement against a person by saying, "he's missing an important part of the brain to be able to do that" or "cry me a river, she deserves everything she gets". The first statements concern a behavior, the second, a person, his/ her soul and the possibility of change. To which kind of statement was Jesus referring when he urged, "Judge not and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37-38)?
The fact is, it would be impossible to determine the true responsibility an individual has for his or her actions. Who can say with certainty what he/ she would have done in Michael Vick's shoes for example? We are all born into different situations with different gifts, talents, inclinations etc. That is why, while we can accurately say that a choice a person makes is wrong, bad or sinful, we cannot judge the person himself. That is God's job.
But to take the specific case of animal cruelty and Michael Vick, I have never seen a dog fight and have no idea how vicious they are. I have also never seen a cock fight, not uncommon in some cultures. I'm sure those are quite vicious as well. I have attended a bull fight and found it upsetting. The vast majority of the spectators there with me found it to be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. This is an example of a difference in culture, not virtue. I'm not saying that dog fighting is the same as bull fighting. I am simply saying that the same activity can be viewed very differently by different people.
Colin Cowherd's comments about Michael Vick implied that Vick is a less moral person, a person beneath him. They implied that, in a sense, he is irredeemable and incapable of change, that there is something inherently wrong with him and, all of that because of the criminally, abominably horrible thing he did. Hmmm...
So, here's the thing. We live in a country where doctors go to work and kill babies. Legally. Every day. Some of them are babies who could live outside of the womb at the time they are killed. Studies have proven that these babies feel pain. The rest of us go about our lives every day, drinking coffee, surfing the internet, training for marathons, raising our own children, knowing that this is going on and doing nothing. I would say that we have all lost a little bit of our brains. Or, perhaps just that we're all sinful and selfish and concerned about the wrong things most of the time.
Which is why I strongly advocate a policy of "there but for the grace of God go I". Human beings are incapable of any goodness on our own. We owe everything to God and God alone. We can pat ourselves on the back now for doing more or being better than the next guy but one day, we'll be compared against the standard of our ideal self, the self God made us to be. That is the only standard that matters and it is individual.
Michael Vick's past is his past. He did his time. What should be important to sports enthusiasts is his now and, to quote Cowherd again, "there are running quarterbacks and then there's Michael Vick". Apparently he's so good, he's in his own category. What a wonderful thing that he could come back from such a huge fall and, face to the sun, move on in life using his God-given gifts.
Regardless of what the talking heads are saying, Michael Vick does get another chance, a do over, a try again. I know I've needed one--or a thousand--of those. And you?