Your Charmed Life

Your Charmed Life

Michael Vick, Forgiveness, & Top 10 Reasons to Do It

posted by Victoria Moran

“Do you think Michael Vick should be allowed to play football again?” my husband wanted to know. (He always asked me the questions that have to do with animal rights and animal welfare since I am a card-carrying PeTA person.) I thought for a minute and said, “As much as I dislike the man and abhor what he did to those dogs, he served his time. If he’d been a business executive or a house painter, nobody would be saying that he shouldn’t get to go back to work.” 

Mighty Mutts dog.jpg

We discussed it some more, the idea that some people see playing pro football not as just a job, but a privilege, and that it makes him a role model. Do I want young people to admire cruelty? Of course not. And yet, forgiveness is powerful. And healing. In a way, it’s harder for me to forgive someone who mistreated animals than someone who mistreated people, not because I don’t care about people, but because animals, like little children, are so innocent and so trusting. I look at the face of the dog in the picture (he’s available for adoption in New York City), and I want to say, “No: don’t let that guy play! Don’t let him make scads of money! This is a travesty!” But I don’t think I get to be choosy about forgiveness. I’m just supposed to do it. Didn’t somebody say something about forgiving 490 times?
Top 10 Reasons to Practice Forgiveness

1. It frees the forgiver. Otherwise, you’re carrying around the burden of resentment. That gets heavy.
2. If you want to make a break, forgiveness cuts the connection. You can divorce the spouse who hurt you and move a thousand miles away, but without forgiveness, he or she is still with you every single day.
3. If you want this person in your life, forgiveness makes that possible. You can’t have a satisfying relationship with anyone if you’re holding onto a resentment from 1998.
4. Karma. “Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
5. People are watching. Remember when the Amish schoolgirls were murdered and the community reached out in love and compassion to the killer’s family? That taught me a thing or two about forgiveness.
6. It helps you forgive yourself. Most people who hold a lot of grudges hold the most against themselves.
7. It brings you closer to God. This comes about because you are, as the Kabbalists are fond of saying, “being like God.”
8. It’s good for your health. Blame is a negative emotion. It eats into your being and makes you feel old and tired. One study found that forgiveness reduced physical symptoms, decreased amounts of medications used, and improved sleep quality.
9. Life looks better. With forgiveness, according to the Mayo Clinic, “We’ll no longer define our lives by how we’ve been hurt.” 
10. It helps our spirit blossom. Bitterness stunts spiritual growth, while forgiveness is a kind of “Spiritual Growth Hormone.” A shot of that stuff and watch out.

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Comments read comments(19)
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Eileen Borris

posted August 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

You did a wonderful job in writing this article. Yes, many animal lovers probably feel the same way you do. How can anyone harm such innocent and loving creatures who bring so much pleasure into our lives. At the same time we all need healing and I love the 10 reasons you sited as to why we should forgive. You are right on! The more we can learn how to forgive, the better off this world will be.Eileen Borris, author of “Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness.”

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posted August 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm

This really hits home for me. I live close to Ann Arbor, and have watched a family of trumpeter swans over the last few years — they come back to the same spot each year, build their nest and have new little babies. Just a few months ago, we saw those new babies waddling down the street with Mommy and Daddy Swan. Last weekend, someone lured them out of the reeds with corn, then shot them. I’ve spent alot of time crying my eyes out and saying “I just don’t understand!” And I still don’t, but I know that, as much joy as these beautiful birds brought to so many, the person or people who did such a heinous act must certainly be unhappy, miserable individuals. I need to never forget the action, but to forgive the one(s) who caused it. Sometimes the people who need prayer the most are the last ones we (I) feel like praying for! Thanks, Victoria, for this timely reminder.

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posted August 4, 2009 at 4:00 pm

This is a wonderful article. Did you know that you’ve done some of your best writing since you wrote “Today, in all honesty, I have nothing to say”?

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posted August 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm

I’ve been struggling with this issue, as well. It’s a difficult one for me to forgive, but as you say, if we are really about forgiveness and spiritual growth, we must be equal opportunity forgivers. Susie, the incident you related is heartbreaking! Ugh, another major test of forgiveness. By-the-way, PETA was in favor of euthanizing the Vick dogs, many of whom have now been successfully rehabilitated by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT, and others are still in the process and doing well.

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posted August 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Great list. Karma, karma, karma…..

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posted August 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Wow…did you write this directly to me and for me? The Vick case upset me so much and I am one of the people who feel that he should not be welcomed back into the NFL. I know that he has already been temporarily reinstated. Maybe part of my problem is that my love of NFL football so hypocritcal to the rest of my life and beliefs. All the big salaries, the violence of the game, the gambling and drinking, etc, are the things that I am against. But I love the game of football and I really enjoy it. Maybe I was hoping there would be some level of righteouness represented by Vick being band from the NFL for what he did. I think that maybe my time would be best spent reading this blog over and over and trying to forgive. I may need to pray for help with this one!

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Your Name

posted August 4, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I am totally with you about forgiveness and certaintly praying for the victims of the abuse, for the those who directly cause it and for those who have the heart to care and intercede for those less fortunate. I don’t believe forgiveness is an exemption from accountability, though and Vick’s serving time was not an example of his accountability but rather his payment on a ‘debt to society’ for getting caught. I too believe that playing football (and I’m a big fan!) is a privilege and he should be allowed to ‘get back to work’-football is not the only job for him and I’m not so sure that thrusting him back in in the scene of a multimillion sports career, where he can continue to be treated like an untouchable hero (a problem facing many athletes gone astray) and serve a a role model to millions of kids; will ultimately help Vick find healing and forgiveness for himself.

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Wanda in Connecticut

posted August 4, 2009 at 9:56 pm

this goes with the 8/4/09 @ 9:54PM post

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posted August 5, 2009 at 12:46 am

This is a really great top ten list, I think people deserve a second chance. Plus, there are so many other people in the professional sports who are even worse offenders of the law who haven’t gotten as much heat as Michael Vick. Ray Lewis killed someone and there are so many who have had drug convictions and domestic violence incidence. Anyone can post their own list to our site The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

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Victoria Moran

posted August 5, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Thanks to everybody who commented on the Michael Vick/forgiveness piece. A friend of mine who works for HSUS passed the blog around and here’s what one of her colleagues commented: “I don’t want to get into a public debate on Facebook, but I’ve been aghast at some of the vindictive, mean-spirited postings there about Michael Vick. It makes me very uneasy when one group of people decides someone is beyond redemption. Also, I think they’re failing to see that Vick’s mega-celebrity status is a blessing; we all can use him to call attention to dogfighting to a degree that wouldn’t be possible with a lesser-known player. If he disappears from the NFL, much of the mainstream media’s interest in the issue will disappear as well.” I really liked this. I believe people all have to be held accountable, but no one is beyond redemption.

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posted August 5, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Michael Vick IS NOT EVEN SORRY!! Why bother forgiving him? What is he now doing for the abused dogs of the world? He does not have one single molecule of remorse or empathy for the animals that he tortured for fun and profit. Micheal Vick IS ONLY SORRY HE GOT CAUGHT! Your piece is a feebleminded embarrassment.

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Victoria Moran

posted August 5, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Lou — Feeble-minded Victoria here. I don’t know if he has any remorse or not. And I don’t know what kind of life experiences caused him to do these evil and callous things. All I know is that if I were perfect in every way, I’d be the position to cast stones.

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posted August 6, 2009 at 11:34 am

You’re clearly more spiritually evolved than me! I do believe that he deserves forgiveness, but I’m appalled at NFL teams (including my beloved Green Bay Packers) who have said that they are willing to offer him a job – would they consider offering any other serial killer a job? It’s all about the money he can generate from his infamy. I don’t believe serial killers are so easily reformed after undergoing “sensitivity training.”
I can forgive, and as a Catholic I believe in redemption, but there’s no way I’d want to associate with him as a team owner. I’d forgive, but not forget.
We had the awful decision to put our 21 year old kitty to sleep tonight because she’s in end-stage kidney disease and no longer can eat nor move, and our dear vet is coming to our home to ease her transition in peace.
Right now I’m feeling NO compassion for a man who tortured animals.

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posted August 6, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Comparing Vick to a serial killer is unfair.
Would you condone white people in the south who fight roosters as harsly?
I am an animal person, but for those over-the-top PETA people calling for Vick’s head on a plate I find to be mentally unstable. There is a point where a pet is still not as valuable as human life.
Vick served time, is working with Tony Dungy (a strong moral Christian former NFL coach) and is working with the Humane Society to educate young men on the wrongs of dog fighting. Oh yeah and he spent 2 years in prison.
It is a parents responsibility to guide their children in who their role models are, not the NFLs. Football players play football. Some of their best players are mean guys who inflict pain on others.
If your child can’t determine between role models off the field and on then it is your fault as a parent.

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Victoria Moran

posted August 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm

So glad this piece has generated lots of conversation — thanks to everyone who’s posted. And Eileen Borris’s work (see her comment — she’s the author of Finding Forgiveness) looks amazing.

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posted August 7, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Of course letting Michael Vick play in the NFL has nthing to do with forgiveness. If you think it does, please read the definition in the dictionary. Football players are often signed to lucrative, long-term contracts to keep them playing for other teams and not for their skills. Since no NFL team appears to want Michael Vick his value is zero. He was a player of considerable natural talent but no intelligence and no leadership skills. Since he is now conditionally allowed to play by the NFL he is “forgiven” but if no team wants him, that is a business decision. Thank you for letting me enlighten many people about this situation.

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posted August 10, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Michael Vick helped me teach an important lesson to my 8yo son about our beloved pit-mix dog, adopted as a young puppy from the local animal shelter, where he was surrendered by a breeder. Knowing his innate behavioral tendencies could be a liability, we worked very hard to train our dog (the family’s first) AND our son how to interact appropriately for the benefit of everyone in our household. My son liked to wrestle and tug with the dog, which we consistently disallowed. At times, this frustrated my son, who didn’t understand why he couldn’t “play” with his dog how he wanted. One night, a program came on about the M.V. case and I watched it with my son–graphic dogfight scenes and all–so I could reinforce with him the message that our beloved dog needed extra special understanding and training so he could be the best dog he could be. My son learned a lot from M.V. and his treatment of those poor dogs via the program on Animal Planet. By the end of the program, we were both in tears for the dogs and so proud of the one who became an extraordinary therapy dog. Those horrid circumstances impressed upon us how fabulous and noble our beloved doggity could become. Sadly, we lost our dog to a freak, fatal accident the very next night. We still love him tremendously, though, and the lesson M.V. taught my son was indelible.

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posted August 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Nice list, Victoria (he said, happily joining you in your presumed feeble-mindedness).
And I say this as a guy who had one of his novels reviewed by Publishers Weekly as “Striking and bizarre, not for the squeamish or the devout.”
Some of my work is known for its violence. I have also written of the absolute necessity of forgiveness – for one’s own sake, if for no other reason.
Odd how a rigid, furious, self-righteously constrained mind can see its opposition as “feeble.” Sad, too.

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betty newberry

posted August 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

sometimes you have to let it go and let God deal with it. This man who ever he is or was, I am willing to bet is a changed man because of prison. He served his time, he paid the price. Let it go, people deserve to get another chance. I mean God forgives us daily for our sins and good lord look what we did, we killed his only begotten son, not a DOG!!! And God forgave us. Sure it hurts, cry about it and then just let it wash away like the river of tears running down your cheeks. It is what it is. Life happens. Nobody is perfect, except the one ABOVE!

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