Michael Vick and the Amish: If we don’t forgive?

The news that Michael Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles left me feeling bemused and more than a bit conflicted.  Clearly, Vick was punished for his crime, that can’t be debate. Michael Vick lost millions, his reputation, a chunk of his pro football career and served 18 months in prison.  So in terms of payback to society one could argue Michael Vick paid his debt and I was close to forgiveness.

But then one of the ESPN commentators on the radio flamed the fires of revenge for me.  We were reminded that this wasn’t just a matter of fighting dogs that were tortured and killed, as though somehow they deserved that horrific fate but we were reminded of the cruelties to everyday family pets.  You know pets, those trusted loyal companions that functions as friend, family and companion.  We were reminded that small fuzzy, defenseless dogs were thrown into the pits to be killed as a sort of sick warm up for the main dog fighting event.  In fact, Vick had no qualms about sacrificing and killing his own family pets. As a dog and animal lover I find the behavior reprehensible and a form of betrayal belonging to a lower form of life, definitely bordering on the sub-human.  How could any sentient creature be so cruel?  Then I remembered, oh right, we’re talking human beings were acts of cruelty occur every day as if it was an integral part of our DNA. As we race to 7 billion being served, it’s not surprising to find that the deviants and sadists, even if they are the decided minority, are stilling teeming in absolute numbers. That’s the other cruel joke, that is when we assume global warming can be divorced from population control but I’ll save that commentary for another blog.

I remember some of the Michael Vick excuses.  It was the warrior culture Vick came from that engendered his behavior but hell after a losing game I don’t recall the fans stringing and hanging up the losing quarterback by his feet like they did to inferior fighting dogs?  Vick commented that this was the culture the adults in his childhood exposed him to but I’m sorry if Nazi Germany taught us anything it’s that as citizens we have a responsibility to know and do the right thing.  Torturing any creature is verboten in my book as it is for most of us despite what any given authority figure might say.

So, now I am agitated and upset regarding Vick and the other cruel sadists bastards that I have to share this once pretty little planet with.  Then I remember a transcendental moment a couple of years ago.  I think most of us vaguely remember the sad school massacre of five Amish children back in 2006, unfortunately these horrific incidents tend to blur into one another as the public become inured to the horror. The media was all over the story talking to the Amish parents who were trying to console the family of the man who performed the hideous crime.  One of the grieving mothers quoted a familiar Amish phrase, “If we don’t forgive, how can we be forgiven?”  Say it quickly and it almost sounds like a trite aphorism, light and somewhat soothing when you are dealing with some small slight from another person.  Say it when you daughter was just massacred because some deficient creature couldn’t get over the loss of his own daughter and it borders on sainthood.  And that’s was just what the Amish were saying as they embraced the grieving family of the mass murderer.

So should we forgive Michael Vick and his transgressions? Frankly, I think Michael Vick’s remorse is as ephemeral as Don Cheney’s Vietnam war record. And then I think of those words, “If we don’t forgive, how can we be forgiven?”


Erik John Bertel

Vick Media Update:  I listened to a few sound bites from the 60 Minutes interview and the Michael Vick mea culpa.  I could not force myself to watch the whole spectacle because I knew Vick was being handled and coached.  I wasn’t wrong because this morning ESPN reported that Vick has hired a media consultant team that has assembled a 42 page media crisis guide that will address the rehabilitation of Vick’s tarnished public persona. Listening to a few sound bites and reading between the scripted words he sounded more like he was sorry that he was caught rather than being truly repentant for his hideous actions in torturing dogs. When you realize that dog fighting is tied to gambling and organized crime well lets just say I’m rooting for the Giants anyway.On the plus side I don’t believe he will become a serial killer.

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