Second Chances? Barack Obama to Michael Vick – Have We become a Compassionless Country?

December 30, 2010

Well, for a guy who believes in Second Chances (hence the title of my new book – Second Chances) I was shocked and saddened at the media storm or fire related to Barack Obama’s comments praising giving folks – namely Michael Vick – a “Second Chance.”  As a nation have we become so full of hate and intolerance that we no longer can tolerate the idea that “Second Chances” are worth aspiring toward?

So this past Monday the following was reported by the Washington Post – quoted here:

On Monday, the buzz was about how the president had weighed in on the redemption of Michael Vick. Obama phoned the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles to praise the team for giving a second chance to the quarterback, who is again a National Football League star 19 months after leaving prison for his role in a horrific dogfighting ring that killed pit bulls by electrocution, hanging and drowning.

The president has not spoken publicly about the call, though aides acknowledged that it took place. But Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports that during their conversation Obama was passionate about Vick’s comeback.

“He said, ‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,’ ” said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. “He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”

While I may not agree with a great deal of what the President says – in this case he’s right!  Rarely do those who serve time get a “fair second chance!”  But AND THIS IS IMPORTANT – “Second Chances” are not just about those who have committed crimes and done their time.  Obama’s comment that “we did something on such a national state that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall” is really at the heart of the matter.

But, with such compassion stated by our President – the firestorm begins.

So what’s the fallout of suggesting that it is good to give folks a “Second Chance” – enter FOX News broadcaster Tucker Carlson, who said: “Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way. I think, firstly, he should have been executed for that. The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale.”

WOW – TALKING ABOUT FROM LEFT FIELD (oops I should have said “Right” field for FOX)

Stop!  Media extremism is in play here.  Let’s get the ratings and buzz huh Tucker?  Dumbass statement that Vick should be executed is nothing more than an UNETHICAL PLOY to sensationalize a true heart-felt comment by Obama.  Have we come to be so angry and so hard-hearted that we will take the opposite opinion of anyone who does not share our ideological belief.  Wonder if Obama had said that he felt Vick should be banished to a desert island never to return to the US – would Tucker have then found it in his heart to give Vick a “Second Chance”?  Is it about coverage and opposites – winning or losing – black or white?  Have we fallen that low as a country?

What about “Second Chances” in other areas – love, being a father, recovery from cancer – Is the concept of getting a “Second Chance” becoming foreign to Americans?  Or is it the media that finds that NO SECOND CHANCES make for better ratings?  If it were his child that needed a “Second Chance” I think Tucker’s words would ring hypocritical this week!  Tucker what about it?  Care to comment?

BUT TUCKER’S NOT THE ONLY ONE…!

Reported in the LA Times –

But Bill Smith, the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in the Philadelphia area, bristled at Obama’s characterization that the Eagles’ signing of Vick was motivated by wanting to give a convicted felon a second chance.

“If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” said Smith, who organized a campaign last season to collect food for animal shelters every time Vick was sacked on the field. “This isn’t about giving anyone a second chance; it’s about who can make the Eagles organization more money.”

Now I’m an animal lover, but the jaded view that it is only about money just doesn’t hold water.  Obama’s point was that Vick is a national figure and that showing compassion and providing a “Second Chance” is something worthwhile.  Vick isn’t the only one who’s been giving a “Second Chance” in life, but he is public.  I wonder if Bill Smith’s grandson (just an example) had been imprisoned for selling drugs and released, would he be in favor of him receiving a “Second Chance”?  Seems to me that for Bill it’s about his passion for animals that his view is so jaded?  Maybe I’m wrong.  Perhaps Bill will comment!

By the way, Bill did a great job making Obama’s point.  “If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” is exactly the point, we need someone as a model of what a “Second Chance” could mean and from personal experience, there are far too few people who will stand up and offer a “Second Chance”.  That’s sad!

WHERE FROM HERE?

First, I’ve been to prison for crimes I committed.  I am not proud of that, but it is a very real fact of my life.  It has been nearly 15 years since my release and yes, I have been given a “SECOND CHANCE”!  For that I am deeply grateful each day of my life.  Here’s an excerpt from my new book “Second Chances” that describes the night it became clear that my crimes were discovered and I had to face the truth that I was (at that time) nothing more than a liar and a thief.  It was the darkest night of my soul…

That night was the darkest night of my soul. That call that I shared didn’t make it better. It didn’t eliminate the consequences. It didn’t remove the pain. Rather, it gave me hope, hope that if I could make poor choices that would, most certainly, bring painful consequences, I also possessed the power to make positive choices with positive results.  His comment to me still resounds in my heart today. He said, “You have made a terrible mistake, but YOU are not a mistake! The choices you make moving forward will define your life forever and provide the foundation for your children’s lives. Think carefully as you make this choice!” 

When he said to me, “YOU are not a mistake,” it hit me─while the past cannot be changed, the life we are given and the choices we make moving forward are the only things that count. I felt a burden lifted. I could not change the past; all I could do was face the consequences. It was within my power to make good choices, now and in the future, that would produce a fruitful outcome. That was my destiny!

Do I believe in “SECOND CHANCES” – absolutely otherwise I would not be here and I AM here for a reason!  Perhaps that is the message that Tucker Carlson and others need to get!  We all, at some point in time, need a “Second Chance”!
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

O.J. Simpson – “The Theft if Fine if the Stuff is Mine!” – Wrong. He’s GUILTY – 13 Years and a Karmic Outcome!

October 4, 2008

Every choice has a consequence.  No one, I repeat, no one can escape this.  It is a law of the universe!  Those words come from experience, because just like O. J. I, too, faced the consequences of my choices as eighteen years ago plus one day I did what O. J. will soon do – step into prison.

Never once would O J. Simpson have dreamed when he walked free from the courtroom in the trial he faced for the death of Nicole Brown Simpson that thirteen years later he would walk out of a court room found guilty on charges that would potentially send him to prison for the rest of his life.  Yet, late on a friday afternoon in October O. J. was found GUILTY on all charges.  After the charges were read, O. J. was handcuffed and led to a new stage of life – one where freedom alludes you.  Speaking from experience, it is not a pleasant place.

According to reports by CNN:

Simpson arrived at the Clark County Justice Center at around 10:50 p.m. (1:50 a.m. Saturday ET). Simpson told CNN’s Ted Rowlands on the phone before the verdict was read that he was “apprehensive.”

The jury of nine men and three women, none of them African-American, reached its verdict after 13 hours of deliberations Friday. Jurors heard from 22 witnesses over 12 days of testimony. Chief among the witnesses were seven of the nine people inside Room 1203 of the Palace Station Hotel and Casino for the September 13, 2007, confrontation.

In an earlier post I stated, “Have you ever noticed that it’s impossible to avoid outcomes that – on the surface you would think – you want to avoid. Oh, for a time, you might think you could dodge the bullet, but then reality hits and, once again, you are hit squarely in the face with reality. For O. J. Simpson that rings true.  Reality is – O. J. Simpson is sabotaging himself.”  In fact, with this guilty verdict he accomplished his mission.

No I’m no psychologist so I have no formal educational basis for my claim and even though I state that here, I am sure I’ll receive comments to that effect. But, I do have a Ph.D. from the school of practical experience. And, let me say, that is one of the most significant learning environments I’ve ever participated in. So let me state again my premise – O. J. Simpson is sabotaging himself!

The question is why? Why would anyone take actions – either consciously or unconsciously – that would bring about an outcome that, by most standards, people would not want?  Why when at the beginning it would see that all was going your way?

In the article by Time magazine – “The Rise and Fall of O. J. Simpson” the follow is stated:

An All-American Beginning
Orenthal James Simpson rose to national prominence as a football player at the University of Southern California, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1968. He went on to play for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers and retired after the 1979 season. O.J. was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

Murder Charges and One Very Slow Car Chase
On June 12, 1994, O.J.’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her house in Los Angeles. Three days later, Simpson, who was charged with their murders, failed to turn himself in and led police on a low-speed — and highly televised — pursuit in a white Ford Bronco. He had left what many considered to be a suicide note that asked the media, “as a last wish, please, please, please, leave my children in peace.” The surreal chase ended at Simpson’s home, where he surrendered to authorities.

“If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit”
A jury acquitted Simpson of double homicide on Oct. 3, 1995, after O.J.’s defense team cast doubt on all the evidence, suggesting it had either been contaminated by bungling lab technicians or planted by police trying to frame Simpson because of his race.

Simpson Loses Wrongful-Death Suit
In a 1997 civil trial, where the standards for guilt are lower than in criminal proceedings, Simpson was found liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman. He was ordered to pay $25 million in punitive damages divided between the victims’ families and $8.5 million in compensatory damages to the Goldman estate. Despite efforts by Goldman’s parents, Fred and Pattie, above, much of the judgment remains unpaid.

A Hypothetical Tell-All
In 2006, Simpson collaborated on a hypothetical tell-all titled If I Did It and taped an accompanying TV interview that never aired due to public outrage. The TV and book deal had been announced by ReganBooks but was quickly cancelled by parent company News Corp., whose CEO Rupert Murdoch called it “an ill-considered project.”

Facing a Possible Life Sentence
On Oct. 3, 13 years to the day Simpson was acquitted of double homicide, a jury convicted him of armed robbery and kidnapping charges stemming from a September 2007 incident in Las Vegas. Simpson and five men raided a hotel room and took memorabilia that the Hall of Famer claimed had been stolen from him. He now faces a possible life sentence for the six-minute encounter, which was secretly audio-taped by the auctioneer who arranged the meeting with the unsuspecting collectibles dealers.

Of course the only part of the story yet to be completed is the sentence.

If one is guilty of a crime, then one will continue to do things so that guilt is brought to light. While Simpson got past the murder charge (and perhaps he was innocent), there is something lurking that brings Simpson the need for punishment. So, having avoided what some would call his just reward, O. J. has chosen to act out in different ways so that equilibrium is restored. O. J. is guilty of something and the need for punishment is being manifest by his actions – whether conscious or unconscious.

A universal law is at work here – you will reap what you sow! And, until that law is satisfied, you will continually have the opportunity to reap till there is equilibrium.

The Positive Side of Consequences:

While reaping and sowing, at least in O. J.’s case, seems to focus on the negative, I know from experience that one can experience negative consequences from one’s actions, but likewise, you can enjoy positive results from the seeds you sow. From prison to Senior Sales Executive in a public company – I know that first hand from personal experience and speak about it regularly.

Perhaps, once O. J. is past this phase of his life and has satisfied his need for punishment, he’ll have the time to pay it forward and give back using his celebrity for the benefit of others. Till then – mark my words – a universal law is in play and once started it will find balance.