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September 27th, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt


I have lost more social media “friends” over Michael Vick and Donald Trump than anything else I’ve ever posted.

Both might be for similar reasons.

The hatred for Michael Vick over his dog fighting ring is as strong today as it was when he was convicted and went to federal prison in Leavenworth.

The NFL star spent two years behind bars for supporting dogfights and for showing extraordinary cruelty to animals.

I’m a dog lover. I grew up with dogs at my grandma’s house, and when I took a trip to London with ‘That’ Liberal Band my dog Biskitt stopped eating while I was gone, and when I returned, she was whimpering under my bed until I came in to the room and she crawled on her belly over to me as if it weren’t real that I was back.

I love my pets and never support cruelty to animals.

And I fully supported Vick’s incarceration for what he did.

But when he was released from prison, his debt to society had been paid.

Vick became an advocate for animal causes, but that wasn’t enough for many.

When I see posts to this day attacking Vick for an incident that sent him to prison for two years more than 12 years ago, and I ask people to forgive him and move on, they “unfriend” me.

They would rather continue to hate than forgive.

Democrats recently attempted to remove Donald Trump from office with an impeachment attempt.

They claimed his request that the Ukrainians investigate Joe Biden and a delay in foreign aid were inappropriate.

Trump was found not guilty by a wide margin. It would have taken almost 20 more senators to vote to convict him than what those seeking his removal received.

In America, when you are not found guilty, you are innocent of the charges brought against you.

But we are getting away from one of the key cornerstone in America — forgiveness.

While I believe this to be paramount to my commitment as a Christian, it’s not the only faith system that requires it.

For Muslims, the Quran states, "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

In Judaism, it is a duty to grant forgiveness to anyone who genuinely seeks it.

And the Bible says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Our judicial system follows these principles, and we also should be looking at reforms that continue this societal tenet.

Once someone has served their time for doing wrong, or if they have been found innocent of charges against them, we should be willing to forgive and accept them back into society.

Too often, we act as if any transgression is a life sentence, that we should never, ever forgive those who not only perform very heinous acts, but even those who are simply politically or faithfully different.

It is a dangerous phrase to say, “I can never forgive ...”

Even those who have no faith system would see the danger in never allowing anyone back into the fold after an infraction.

True, we have to take certain precautions to protect society and those in it. If a person commits sexual acts against children, I may forgive the person but I’m not asking them to babysit children, either.

But the continued hatred toward Vick is only hurting those who allow the poison of unforgiveness in their hearts. Forgiveness is not an admission that what he did was right. It wasn’t.

In Trump’s case, the charges did not rise to the level that convinced the Senate that he should be removed.

That’s the end of it.

Now, we move on.

Trump will still have to face political operatives as he has for the past three years, claiming he lies, that he’s mean and that he doesn’t have the temperament to be president.

That’s politics.

But if we want to see a more civil society, we should start with the concept of forgiveness for those who we believe did us wrong.

With the advent of social media, people love to jump on the bandwagon to attack someone, but few make the tough decision to seek common ground.

And when they do, it is met with the same hatred as the person being attacked in the first place.

I recently shared with a person attacking Trump over the transcript that “reasonable people can look at the same evidence and reach different conclusions. Now we have to work together moving forward.”

The response — “You still don’t understand that the transcript started the whole thing. Stop letting others think for you.”

Some believe their own view to be the only acceptable view and all others are criminal.

And we never forgive other views.

We will never move forward while holding past grudges. If America wants to succeed, it starts with forgiveness.

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