What does it take to forgive Ray Rice and give him another chance?
Of course, there is outrage, anger, and a cry for justice when we witness abuse and when a man hits a woman.
The video of Ray Rice hitting his then fiancé Janay, in February this year, inside an elevator, knocking her unconscious as she hits the railing, raised even more public outrage and led to his indefinite suspension by the NFL. He’s also undergoing court-ordered anger management, counseling and is on probation.
Janay, now his wife, has forgiven him but the media and commentators are still seeking blood. And she says she doesn’t want his life and career ruined; she says it was "one-time event," that "nothing physical had happened in their relationship before or since."
Janay Rice wants a second chance for her husband.
Why won’t we forgive Ray Rice and give him a second chance, when his wife is willing to do so?
We connected emotionally with Janay when we saw both videos; we felt her pain, humiliation and helplessness when she was knocked unconscious and when she was dragged out of the elevator. Our outrage was even higher when we saw the photos of Rihanna’s bruised face after being beaten by Chris Brown.
So it makes sense that we are angry; angry about the way they both treated each other; she spat on him and hit him as well.
But if Janay Rice can forgive her husband, why don’t we?
Christianity and all of the major religions promote forgiveness. Jesus asked God to forgive the people who were about to murder Him on the cross.
Look how many people in sports we have forgiven so far.
Tiger Woods: The world’s greatest golf player was shamed into admitting to having cheated on his wife with more than 12 different women. He apologized to her, the fans and to the world. We gave him another chance.
Michael Vick: Michael Vick while playing for the Atlanta Falcons was involved in a dog-fighting ring. They tortured, electrocuted, and killed animals. His crimes sent him to jail for 2 years. We gave Vick another chance, and he now plays for the New York Jets.
Plaxico Burress: New York Giants star receiver Plaxico Burress was charged with two felony counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree after he accidentally shot himself in a nightclub. He was sent to jail for almost 2 years.
We gave him another chance.
Lawrence Taylor: He’s considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of football. He helped the Giants win two Super Bowls. But his entire career he struggled with alcohol and cocaine abuse. He tested positive for cocaine twice. He called his own home “a crack house.”
We gave him another chance. And in 2001, he was forced to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute.
Michael Strahan: His then wife Jean Strahan claimed in a domestic violence court hearing in 2005 that New York Giants Michael Strahan punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground, causing her to have a tooth knocked loose. She supplied photos of her bruises. We gave him another chance, and he’s now co-host of the TV show "Live with Kelly and Michael."
The question remains, had Ray Rice been a concert pianist, would he have been banned for life from playing piano? Should a man’s career be terminated because of a wrongdoing? Why is a DUI driver who kills someone allowed to drive again?
In the same way that we choose to teach there are consequences for actions, should we not choose to teach forgiveness and second chances?
This is why Janay says the media is creating a nightmare for her – it is reinforcing her victimhood and by punishing her husband, we are also punishing her.
We can all learn from imperfection, mistakes, wrongdoing and sin; we all have the opportunity to change the way we think, feel and behave.
We can teach sons and daughters to respect each other. We can teach sons emotional intelligence, how to handle their emotions, and how to communicate without violence.
We can teach the freeing power of forgiveness.
We can forgive Ray Rice, and give him another chance, without ever condoning what he did.