Apologies revisited and moral outrage

The matter of Michael Vick and his return to the NFL cannot be escaped–especially when you live in Philadelphia Eagle territory. Seems the media cannot get enough of him: Can he be forgiven? Is he truly sorry? Has he paid his debt? Should he get a second chance?

I care little about these matters but would like to make two observations.

1. On apologies (again). I’ve written here numerous times regarding the good and the bad about the art of apology and what one reveals about the person making said apology (use the search engine above to find them). But let me highlight one thing about Vick’s recent comments regarding his awakening to the evils of dogfighting. The following appeared in a recent USA Today,

During his interview with Brown, Vick summed up why many sports figures lie through their teeth when caught red-handed in personal or criminal scandals. They’re — what else? — terrified of losing their multimillion-dollar salaries and endorsements. “I was scared. I knew my career was in jeopardy. I knew I had an endorsement with Nike — and I knew it was going to be a big letdown. I felt the guilt and I knew I was guilty, and I knew what I had done. And, not knowing at the time that, you know, actually telling the truth may have been better than, you know, not being honest. And it backfired on me.”

Notice his answer reflects the same root problem that got him into the problem behavior–SELF. His reason for truth telling is because it would have been better for him. “What is best for me” thinking is one of humanity’s main problems.

2. Moral Outrage. Is anyone else surprised at the level of public outrage about Vick? He is not an elected official charged with leading us? He is not anything but a professional football player. Why is there so much outrage about the evils of dogfighting and so little outrage for other evils (abortion, porn use, child abuse, poverty, obesity, etc.)? Here I think NT Wright is instructive. In his book, Evil and the Justice of God(IVP, 2006), Wright suggests that most of the western world (a) ignores evil unless it hits us personally, (b) is surprised when it does, and (c) responds in “immature and dangerous ways as a result.” (p. 24). To point c he says,

Having decreed that almost all sexual activity is good and right and commendable, we are all the more shrill about the one remaining taboo, pedophilia. It’s as though all the moral indignation which ought to be spread more evenly and thoughtfully across many spheres of activity has all been funneled on to this one crime.” (p. 27)

Well, maybe we should add animal cruelty to the list of greatest evils.

He goes on to remind us,

Lashing out at something you simply know by intuition is wrong may be better than tolerating it. But it is hardly the way to build a stable moral society.” (p. 27)

1 Comment

Filed under Abuse, News and politics

One response to “Apologies revisited and moral outrage

  1. Bruce

    Thanks Phil – Pt #2 nicely hits on a piece of what I’ve been noticing in many fan reactions I hear on the radio.

    But it’s not only the outrage of these callers, rehearsing why the Eagles & NFL ought not to allow Vick to play. It’s how confident many of them are as they ‘unmask’ and condemn the motives of ALL who may not agree with them, whether team owners, coaches.. or other fans.

    Another thought. I’m intrigued by the argument “it’s all because he got caught, so he can’t truly be sorry[=repentant].” That might bethe case here (I for one don’t yet know), but thankfully it need not be true! How often is the first step to getting turned around (i.e. to true repentance), the ‘good fortune’ of being caught and forced to face up to their sins?

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