Michael Vick wants a puppy.
This statement has led to countless social, theological and ethical discussions.
It’s a complicated issue because there’s no precedent for it. Comparing crimes only gets you into an even more confusing discussion about the fairness of our judicial system. Attempting to use your own life experiences doesn’t have the same affect on anyone that’s not you. Making it a religious debate leads to the same type of arguments that are responsible for 90 percent of the world’s wars.
Therefore, I’m not here to attempt to change any ones mind in 500 words. I hope your foundation is stronger than that. My approach to this issue focuses on the underlying facts of Michael Vick’s statement.
As controversial as Vick’s entire ordeal has been, as well as he’s been playing this season, as the boo’s have been drowned out by cheers……why now? What is motivating Michael Vick to make this statement now?
One word: redemption.
Dictionary.com lists a number of definitions for redemption and most of them directly relate to Michael Vick’s comment.
1. an act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed.
Of course we were all taught a long time ago not to use the word you’re trying to define in your definition. However, the key word here is “act”. Redemption is not given, it must be earned. Considering it was the “act” that put one in the position to need redemption, then it is also the acts of the person afterwards which determines if they deserve it.
Michael Vick has invested time and effort (acts) into speaking out against dog fighting. Maybe you feel it’s all just an act, an ‘it’s expected so I’m doing it’ gesture aimed at quickly Oxi-Clean’ing his reputation.
Only Michael Vick truly knows. However, it’s a meaningful sign that he’s continuing to speak out against dogfighting on his off days during the season. He’s not forced to make these appearances as a community service, nor is he being paid for them. These are independent events set up by the Humane Society in areas where dogfighting is prevalent.
Again, these are just facts. You determine what they mean to you.
2. deliverance; rescue.
Michael Vick needs help. The best thing that happened to Vick while in jail was the bond he developed with Tony Dungy. Vick needed to see that not everyone was going to view him as a deranged bloodthirsty monster. He needed to know that there was a path that lead back to where he once was. It is long, it certainly won’t be easy, but it’s necessary.
Redemption isn’t a gift but it still must be given.
Vick now knows that he can be embraced again. It’s a start. It’s something to work toward. When you’re banished, you’re alone. When you’re alone, you get vengeful. When there’s vengeance there’s no redemption. Tony Dungy helped him see that in his most vengeful of moments he need only look in a mirror. This allows a path toward reconciliation and deliverance from the person he saw, into the person he wants to be.
3. atonement for guilt.
Once self-realization is reached the long road to redemption begins. First you apologize to all those you hurt, intentional or not. Then you begin the long journey toward atonement. The best way to follow this path is to recognize who you were and vow never to be that person again, in any aspect of your life.
This step is evidenced by Vick’s on field play. He’s aware of the talent he has. He’s also aware of the conceited asshole he was. The one that thought he didn’t need coaching, relied 100 percent on his physical abilities, and was consistently last to enter but first to exit.
Remember, the Philadelphia Eagles plan in trading Donovan McNabb was to make Kevin Kolb the starter. Michael Vick, through his newfound dedication and hard work, has become the Eagles starting quarterback. He’s playing at the level of the guy Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank had hoped he’d given $100 million to.
4. repurchase, as of something sold.
The consequence of Vick’s actions resulted in his freedoms being taken from him. The last step of redemption is to buy those freedoms back one at a time.
The awareness of Michael Vick’s statement shows maturity. He’s not running from the problem, he’s not trying to shortcut or masquerade his way toward redemption. This part is huge.
As well as he’s playing, as many cheers as he’s hearing, as much money as his next contract will offer……Vick is still seeking true redemption. You can connect the dots between the steepness of his plummet and his arduous climb out. Each freedom and basic human right that he’s lost, he’s worked to buy back.
His last step in total and complete redemption is to once again have not only the ability to own a dog but the responsibility and maturity to recognize the gift that it is, and to treat it as such.
Whether you believe he should or should not be able to own a dog again is irrelevant. What’s more important is recognizing the path toward true redemption.
It may also help to memorize a few landmarks along the way.