This post may be a little rambling today, as I am on five different medications, two antibiotics, but I felt compelled to write. I think it started for me with Kavanaugh’s confirmation for the Supreme Court. Then, it became a deluge with people losing their jobs and careers over incidents that happened many years ago.
And yes, if crimes were committed, then hold people responsible and seek justice for the victims hurt by their behavior. But, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law must never be lost in a democracy. I am not going to argue the innocence or guilt of anyone. That is not my job!
I have found that the media is not a good prosecuting attorney. So, I am concerned, because the meting out of punishments, such as the lost of jobs and opportunities to serve the nation, cannot be willy-nilly decided in the press in such a ideologically divided nation. Today, old photographs of politicians from each party are surfacing, and there is real terror flooding the nation, people afraid that their lives will be changed by the publication of one moment in the lives.
As I read the calls for the Virginia governor to resign because of an incident from his medical student days, I remembered the Twitter war when Kevin Hart was chosen to emcee the Oscars awards show, due to homophobic posts made years ago. I wondered what has happened to forgiving past antics and accepting people for who they say are or prove to be today.
Maybe there is a general belief in much of the country that people don’t and can’t change or mature in their belief. This might not be a problem if not for mass media, especially social media, where everything ever said or done is somewhere waiting to derail our future endeavors.
I used to tell my college students to be careful what they posted about clandestine actions on Facebook or MySpace or any other social platform. I warned them to judge how their actions may be viewed, especially the young ladies, when someone uploaded pictures of of them.
I knew that universities and employers had started using content from these platforms to judge the fitness of people for their jobs or schools. I said to them, “One moment caught in a precarious state could cost you all of your dreams, and years of hard work could become negated in one second of a camera’s flash.”
We have all said and done stupid things without thinking of the consequences later down the road. If people found out about our careless words or insensitive actions, they may have wondered what we were thinking at the time. But if we had altered our behavior and matured in our beliefs and actions, there was some modicum of forgiveness, a bestowing of the benefit of the doubt.
Let me be clear, I am, not excusing anyone’s behavior, and yes, we have to take responsibility for all that we say and do when it becomes common knowledge, but using the past to kill people’s opportunities for repentance and the displaying of a changed heart seems wrong.
Past racist, homophobic, sexist, ethnic beliefs or actions can sometimes indicate people’s people current beliefs, but I would hope that we would consider that just maybe they don’t. I know that my beliefs have changed over my lifetime and what I consider to be proper and righteous behavior.
So, yes, I somewhat understand the outcry for the governor’s resignation, especially if his antics were fueled by racial prejudice then and a desire to denigrate black people that still exists today. But, can we forgive him, even if he is the one in the Klan outfit? Has he grown any since the incident? Will he work on behalf of all Virginians, regardless of race, or does a picture from his past negate his ability to do so?
I admire Daryl Davis who works to befriend past and current Klansmen and make them friends. By showing forgiveness, he is changing hearts of an eclectic group of men.
As a Christian, I believe in changed hearts. This is my prayer before I judge anyone’s past and convict them without any evidence of lack of change:
Psalm 139:23-24–Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!