Let’s do this a little differently today. Let me share what I want to talk about before we begin. I don’t want to get off track in the rabbit trails and red herrings. I don’t want to minimize any detail, but I also don’t want the specifics to keep us from wrestling with the underlying question. Let me be clear: the specifics are hard. The audacity is unthinkable… sobering… and nothing short of infuriating. We will not minimize the severity. I simply want to talk about an underlying angle. I want to wrestle with the excellent question of: what’s too much to pay?
I want to talk about forgiveness. And consequence. I want to address pardon… propitiation… a restart, so-to-speak. I want to talk about second chances. When do they and when do they not apply? When does a person not deserve a second chance?
And… who gets to decide that? Could different people, have different, okay ways to proceed?
Let me offer the awful example…
Joe Mixon is a 20 year old, aspiring NFL athlete. Soon after arriving on the college campus, one day after his 18th birthday, Mixon punched fellow student, Amelia Molitor, in the face, breaking multiple bones, requiring hospitalization, surgery, and a jaw wired shut. Not only did Molitor have to endure the physical recovery, she was also subject to the extended stares, shame, social media avenues attempting to blame her, and to the fans, attorneys, etc. who prioritized Mixon’s football future over Molitor’s mental and physical health.
While the horrifying incident happened three years ago, the video wasn’t released until last December, which spurred on even more stares at Molitor, more outrage directed at Mixon, and more fans and attorneys attempting to minimize Mixon’s criminal actions.
Molitor has seemingly worked hard to heal and survive. Some would say she has found a way to thrive. Part of her chosen way through was to meet not long ago with Mixon.
From Molitor on their meeting: “Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experiences since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives. From our private discussions I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work towards helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances.
I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.”
From Mixon: “I’m thankful Mia and I were able to talk privately. I was able to apologize to her one-on-one. The way I reacted that night, that’s not me. That’s not the way I was raised. I think she understands that.
Talking together helps move us past what happened. I know I have to keep working to be a better person, and this is another step in that direction. I love working with kids, and I’m looking forward to more chances to do that kind of work. I want to lead a life that inspires them, and I hope I can lead by example from today forward.”
The initial incident was awful. The apology was also accepted. I’m also not close enough to either Mixon or Molitor to gauge the depth of sincerity nor entirety of motive.
Note that Joe Mixon is considered one of the most skilled NFL prospects — possibly, even, talent-worthy of being drafted in the top five or ten. When he was finally selected by the Bengals in the mid-second round Friday night, many were outraged — as character-worthy, prompts the controversy.
If a person chooses to never cheer for Joe Mixon, they will find no active argument from the Intramuralist. If a person chooses to jeer, they will also find no argument. But if a person feels led to give a second chance to another — investing in him, walking alongside him, providing structure and discipline and helping him grow — you will also find no argument. A second chance is not a right, but it can be beautiful, contagious, and inspiring.
Hence, this isn’t about Joe Mixon, Amelia Molitor, the Bengals, or the NFL. The question is: when does a person deserve a second chance? Who gets to decide that? And is it ok that we will have different answers to that question?
When an athlete, celebrity, public servant, felon, or friend, does actually redeem themselves… when they do grow, change, repent, and become a positive influence… when a person or relationship is redeemed or restored… is that not most beautiful?
Tough, I know, as it only starts with a second chance and the specifics are hard. I just don’t want to miss wrestling with the underlying questions… those that affect us all.