When did we decide that our fellow human beings do NOT deserve a second chance? Heck, I believe there are times when a third, or fourth chance is needed. Humans eat, breath, hurt, laugh, feel, and (hold on to your hats here) MAKE MISTAKES! Being imperfect is the human condition. I talked with a mom yesterday who told me that her 20-something year old son is looking for employment. Actually, he’s been job-hunting for many, many months. Several years ago he got into trouble. He went to jail, served his time, and has not been in trouble since. However, when a potential employer pulled up the young man’s past record, he was told that he is “un-hirable”. Are you kidding me?
A situation involving five outstanding students in a local school district has been the dominating story for the past week or so. It seems these young men pulled a “prank” and they cut down two trees on the high school campus. The high school seniors were suspended, and then sent to a continuation school. A judge ruled that they should be allowed back on campus, but when they returned to school, the district refused to welcome them back. They have taken their case to court. Apparently, restitution and remorse is just not enough! Mistakes will not be tolerated.
I see this unforgiving attitude all around me and in every walk of life. Oh, there is one exception – the famous! The famous are forgiven mistakes, missteps, misspeaks, misleadings, and misguided thinking. It seems sometimes that the famous and infamous get off scot-free for seriously egregious transgressions – rape, murder, child molestations, and other sexual crimes. Names like, R Kelly, Michael Jackson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Pee-Wee Herman come to mind.
A few months ago, the local Television news, talk shows, and newspapers covered a situation that demanded our attention. It seems that a group of homeless sex offenders were plugging their rechargeable tracking monitors in at a lighted downtown historical building. These men are homeless because of the myriad of restrictive laws that keep them from living near a park, school, or other gathering place for children. Mind you, they can get close to these places during the day, but they just can’t SLEEP near these spots. (Don’t get me started!) Of course, our city leaders spoke out against the paroled homeless men. These guys are doing their very best to comply with the law by keeping their GPS monitors charged at all times. They COULD cut the monitors off and go on the run. They COULD allow the batteries to die and hide out until they get caught. They COULD commit some small crime so they could go back to jail where they’d have a bed and three square meals a day. But they are doing the best they can under the circumstances. They are complying. Bear in mind that the vast majority of these men are NOT child molesters, but rather they are young men who had consensual sex with their under-age girlfriend, a guy who peed in public, someone who received a sexual picture on their cell phone, or someone who made a bad call while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Here’s the kicker in the whole question about whether or not we should allow sex offenders to charge their monitors at our downtown monument - our local police chief is himself a man with a checkered past. Some of his early indiscretions were made public when he became the police chief. He got into some trouble and was arrested a time or two. When he was 27 he was involved with an underage girl. The only reason he is not a registered sex offender today, is that the laws were different then! Our beloved police chief was given the opportunity to be a better man. If he had committed his crimes today, he would never have been able to become a police officer, let alone the admired and respected police chief that he is today!
Human beings make mistakes. Human beings DESERVE the chance to reform and to contribute something positive to our community and to our world. Some of the most beloved contributors have overcome obstacles, bad choices, addictions, and challenges. I think of Johnny Cash, Drew Barrymore, Abraham Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, and Thomas Edison, just to name a few. As a Christ-follower I look at over-comers like, Paul, David, Moses, Hosea’s wife, Noah, Jacob, Jesus, and more.
You deserve a second chance – everyone does! Look around. Reach out to a brother or sister who needs a hand up. Believe in someone today. It may make all the difference in both your lives!