I’ve never been a fan of clichés. To me, they seem to be a substitute for thinking. A way to avoid articulation. That’s not to say I don’t — from time-to-time — use them. I admit, there are times when I’m just too damned lazy and take the “easy way out”, to use a cliché.
Now, there are many that annoy me… and then there a some that incense me.
“Everyone Deserves a Second Chance”
The crux of this argument always seems to fall back to “We’re only human”. Strictly adhering to this credence, my friends, is potentially dangerous. It is frightening that most people — upwards of 80% — feel this way, without giving it a second thought. Probably because they never had to think about it. Anyhow, it just sounds right to respond this way because, hey, haven’t we all made mistakes and weren’t we happy for another crack at doing better next time?
I suspect if each of us gave it serious thought — by personalizing it — that this would be reconsidered. Let’s begin by relating it to ourselves… as the offender. Take a minute to recall when you when given another chance for something you did wrong.
I bet we all thought about what we did that brought shame. For most of us, we are remembering things like being caught cheating on a test… or calling off of work sick and then being spotted at a ballgame by the boss… or even lying to family or friends to get out of doing something.
Weren’t we all happy that we were given a second chance?
Most reading this are (generally) good people, I predict. As such, we don’t instinctively relate this to evil or wicked acts. That is, not until it happens to us in our own lives.
To err is human, yes, and to deny that people make mistakes would be downright foolish. Still, a mistake is one thing (but never without consequences, some of which are catastrophic), but I’ll be damned if there is no difference between a blunder, a misgiving, and serious malefactions.
There most certainly are.
Well… “to err”, should be taken in context as a matter of degrees. All I can say with certainty is that “everyone deserves a (single) chance”. This, I would assert, is a shared premise. Beyond that is worthy of consideration.
For the sake of scope and breadth, I’m not talking about forgiveness. Neither am I addressing redemption nor reconciliation. These are derivatives from the underlying act. I’m keeping the focus narrowly on “second chances”.
To explain what I mean (i.e., by a matter of degrees), I’ll use some obvious examples of who I consider as the undeserving. Included would be violent offenders; like school shooters, rapists, child abusers, murderers, and those who assault the helpless (like Austin Issac Vantrease and Jonathan Matthew May, who beat my son into a coma even while he laid beaten and unconscious on the gravel parking lot). If you adamantly believe people like Adolph Hitler, Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Kaczynski, Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May, or the like, deserve at least one free pass then, I suppose, there is no practical reason for you to continue reading.
I simply won’t be able to persuade you.
Yet, incredibly, some nefarious people (like those mentioned above) were given a second chance by the justice system! That doesn’t mean that we, as a society, must also. On the contrary. They must always be under intense scrutiny.
Take Austin Vantrease, who kicked the essence out of a defenseless, unconscious, and peaceful soul. Should he EVER be left alone with any prone person? Is is wise to grant him another chance to, say, babysit a child, be it his or another parents? Or care for a weak or elderly person.
Would you give him a second chance with someone you love who is vulnerable?
Austin Vantrease was incarcerated at St. Marys Correctional Center’s, who’s mission is to provide for the custody, control and care of convicted, adult, male felons who have been convicted of severe crimes against man or nature.
It should cause grave concern. The law doesn’t forbid him from hosting a sleepover, but parents of children who come in contact with him should. Many community groups (like youth sports, schools, and churches) prohibit a violent felon — such as Austin Vantrease — from participating. They recognize the risks and there will be no second chances given.
Good for them!
As a society, we can — and should — raise red flags. Any known censurable adult must be called out to the community. If, for no other reason, to keep them under a watchful eye. I wonder, how many responsible parents would allow their child to go on a field trip if chaperoned by a violent felon?
I hope you consider what I said. Did you — and do you — believe everyone deserves a second chance, unconditionally?
On the Other Hand
For perspective (and perhaps a chuckle), I’d like to wrap this up by providing an example of someone I’d give a second chance. Perhaps a good friend who wantonly stole my last piece of pizza. Well, they’d have to be sincerely, genuinely, and overly apologetic…
Because I love pizza!
Chrissy Holt Marino via Facebook says
I totally agree with every point you hit on. Different situation, of course. …but the drunk driver who hit and killed my Mom (and tried to drive away because he claimed he thought that he had ONLY hit an animal) served less than 3 years and was let out a little bit early for good behavior and for writing childrens books….What?!?! My Mom was only 44 years old and my Dad’s high school sweetheart and wife of almost 25 years. .and the Mother of his 5 children…my brother was 11, my younger sister was 14, I was 16, my older sister was 21 and my oldest sister was 23. There’s no real accountability! He turned our lives upside down …forever. …but he was good in jail so that made up for it. At his trial, I will never forget hearing his attorney say “although it’s a very unfortunate situation, Yes Mr. Konzelman made a mistake but he is only 23 years old and it would be sad to make him spend his life in jail….” ….Disgusting & Unbelievable. ..
Jennifer Duffy says
I pray that Ryan is given a second chance to experience the beauty and joy of life. I also truly pray that you, your wife and daughter are also open to a second chance for some happiness yourselves. Not only Ryan’s life was drastically altered by his assailants, but so also were you, his family, tragically and horrifically injured.
I believe that God will take care of the assailants’ karma. Also, for some it takes having your own children, as a catalyst, to understanding the love between a parent and child. I believe that one day they might look at their own children and realize the pain and suffering they have caused. If/when this happens, they might suffer/repent and seek redemption/forgiveness. I don’t know if this will alleviate your suffering.
I do know you must take good care of yourself and your wife and daughter. You need them too and they need you also. Your chances for peace and happiness must not be lost because of what has happened to Ryan. Ryan’s life was and is most valuable. Your best honor of his life is to make sure that you, your wife, and daughter make the best of your lives. I do not know Ryan, but as a loving son, I sense this is what he would want….for your family to lead the happy fulfilled lives he had so tragically altered for himself.
Retreat into the woods sounds so peaceful, but I can only speak from my own experiences. You see I live in the woods, away from others and the day-to-day. Yes, it is wonderful to experience the beauty of nature, the opportunities to explore my inner life and remain removed from what is happening “out there”. But there are many potential pitfalls…..loneliness, depression, absence of family, the touchstones that keep us connected to life, the sounding boards that remind us of another way of looking at things, the incentives to keep moving forward, the reasons to get up, the reminders that we are loved and capable of loving, someone else’s laughter and touch.
Hold onto yourself, hold onto your family, hold onto life. Fight for you and your family to smile and be happy again.
A friend out there sending you hope.
It’s good to know that their deeds will follow them forever. Austin will not be able to coach or even sell a hot dog at little league for his son, go on field trips with his son, or do the things a good father usually participates in. It will be embarrassing for his son. It will also be a lesson for his son to see what the consequences of a bad decision looks like. To see the consequences of not living up to your financial responsibilities. To see how most of our society shuns evil behavior that hurts another human being.
God bless your family this Easter weekend, always thinking of you.
Sabrina McDonald Cave via Facebook says
Continue to pray for you, Ryan, Sue and Kari Diviney
Cheryl Askew via Facebook says
Anger and hate can wear a person down… It’s in our nature to forgive, to give second chances but after the second or third time if there is absolutely no change, no remorse or desire to make things right then one must walk away….
Gail Doyle says
What second chance has Ryan had?? There was no justice for Ryan! NO SECOND CHANCE for those two monsters
Paula Yocom says
Of all the horrible results of what happened to Ryan from being attacked by VanTrease and May,one of the scariest for me is to know that based upon their remorseless behavior, the potential remains for them to inflict further damage on others. The possibility is there for anyone to be at risk and it scares me. The court has offered no protection to all the innocent. These criminals are free to walk the streets which quite frankly makes me seriously anxious and fearful. In all these years, neither VanTrease nor May has ever offered a sincere apology or made any effort whatsoever to make amends. Nothing. It is scary as hell. Their families the same. Nothing. It is heartbreaking that Ryan ever found himself in proximity to them. It is terrifying that others will unknowingly do the same. God help them.
Karyn Mandracchia Ahern via Facebook says
I agree 100% no second chances for them !!!!
Sara Saldaña Graddy via Facebook says
Ryan will not have a second chance at being 100 % normal!!! SO THOSE TWO SHOULDN’T EITHER!! Why our justice systems sucks so bad I will never know!! It just infuriates me! It’s like do they not see what they have done to Ryan!! Are they
Flipping blind, all of them!!!!!
Mary T says
I agree 100%
Thanks for posting this!
Nadine Blaschak-Brown via Facebook says
As someone who works for a state judicial branch of government, I appreciate you making me start my day thinking about why I do what I do. I am aware of this moral dilemma you so aptly address…even just through personal experience as a parent and a so far less than perfect human being. I have tried to raise my children to take responsibility for their actions, just as I do myself. I make every attempt to apologize when I know I have done wrong to another.
I agree with you whole heartedly regarding the concept of the matter of degree of an offense. The extent to which the atrocious acts against Ryan, and the ongoing fallout to him, you, and the rest of your family are some of the most egregious of which I’m aware. For me, matter of degree is coupled with intent. And the intent of the violent acts against Ryan are incomprehensible. Yet now, these miscreants are given chance after chance to live the lives you can only dream about for Ryan and yourself. They do so without thought to their violent acts. Nor do they make any move toward victim restitution – especially given how ridiculously small it is. Ugh.
Second chances. Something I always hope I will receive. Do I believe everyone deserves a second chance unconditionally? No. Absolutely not. Further, it becomes a philosophical question of why some are given not just a second, but numerous chances without ever having to take responsibility. Why are some given the world on a silver platter (yep, intended cliche)…yet the Divineys live every moment of their lives in utter hell? There is no justice here.
I believe in karma and have no doubt a lot of good karma will come your way and soon…in the very least in the form of some good pizza! And I wonder…would the person who just picks a couple toppings off your slice even require thought of a second chance? Would that instance be unconditional?
Always with you, Ken. Keep going.
That poor baby will find out sooner or later what Daddy did to a man! Poor kid! How would a child ever forget–no way will vantrease be forgiven by his child! Karma is a bitch–I can hardly wait! Forgive? Second chance? Forgive the cliche, but not on your life! I will pray for me! No sermon needed!
SHSP, NEGA! Nope! NOT EVER GOING AWAY!
Liza Krause via Facebook says
I agree 100%. Not everybody deserves a second chance. It is ridiculous to even think they do.
I pray for you and you family always. ✨
Elaine Murray-Applebaum via Facebook says
Every time I read about Ryan and his senseless injuries I see red cause there was no reason for this !!!! To put a young and handsome man in a coma they should be held responsible
Tim Ernandes says
The most disturbing thing to me about the boys (and they are boys, because they lack maturity) who so viciously and mercilessly attacked Ryan is that they refuse to own their actions. They ask for a second chance (the easy part), yet they refuse to shoulder the responsibility for their misdeeds, much less attempt any kind of restitution or show true remorse.
Anyone who lacks the moral conviction to own their actions and take true responsibility does not deserve that “second chance”.
I would give consideration for a second chance to someone who stands up and takes his lumps a lot more easily. Those cretins clearly refused to do that, and tried to rationalize their avoidance of responsibility. I might be willing to consider a second chance if they stepped up to the plate (sorry about the cliche) and dedicated their lives to taking responsibility in a meaningful way and assisting materially with Ryan’s care and recovery.
Hear, hear, one and all! Tim, you said it exactly right!
Michele B says
I agree completely with what Tim said. If they (Austin and Jonathan) had taken the maturity to step up, call an ambulance, stay with Ryan, recognize the harm they have done, and do everything within their power to make restitution – be it monetarily, emotionally, whatever, however they possibly could (not that I am saying I would ever allow either of them near Ryan again)- but I am saying they could raise money, they could bring awareness to his cause in a positive manner, then I would consider them worthy of a thought of a second chance. But they haven’t. None of this has happened. They continue living as if they have done nothing wrong. And that makes them unworthy of a second chance for anything, in my opinion.
Jacqueline Reda Pontarelli via Facebook says
Very well put…
Michelle Carlino via Facebook says
continued prayers to you and your family! i prayer every day that a miracle happens for ryan!!!!
Jen Marie Malone via Facebook says
Well said my friend!! Xo