Some opportunities allow for just one chance to make a favorable impression on a person, company, or group of people. Sending in a resume to a company is one example. If the resume looks good, that chance could be rewarded with a job. But mistakes even as small as a spelling error can cause that chance to be wasted, with no hope for another opportunity. People who commit crimes and end up going to jail for their actions are often given a second (and perhaps third) chance on life upon serving their time.
In the case of celebrities, it seems like the number of chances provided after mistakes are made is often multiplied by a factor other than one. Lindsey Lohan’s numerous brushes with the law (and subsequent taps on the wrist) would make one think that we’re all entitled to multiple chances, even when we willingly screw up.
This was brought to light on Sunday afternoon during the Los Angeles Lakers/Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game. One of the most mercurial players on the court that day was Ron Artest (who recently changed his name to Metta World Peace). He’s flamboyant. He’s unpredictable. He’s very good at basketball. But he also was part of one of the most disturbing scenes in sports history in the 1990’s. A fight broke out during a game in Detroit (he played for Indiana at the time), and tempers were starting to cool down—until he was hit with a cup of beer. Artest went into the stands and threw punches at the fan he thought threw the cup. As a result, he was rightfully suspended for (a year?).
Since then, he’s gotten his act together, become a model citizen on and off the court, and even won a NBA award for citizenship.
Then Sunday happened.
Near the end of the second quarter, World Peace gets the ball for Los Angeles, drives down the court, and dunks with authority. Then the unthinkable happens:
James Harden did get off the court and is okay. World Peace was ejected from the game and later attempted to apologize for his actions, saying it was inadvertent.
Here’s the question we’re asking this week: In the Bible, Peter asks Jesus if someone comes up to a person and asks for forgiveness, how many times should be the limit for forgiving (it’s in Matthew 18, if you’re interested). Being generous, he chooses the number 7. Jesus replies by saying that seven times shouldn’t be the limit, but 70 x 7 (in other words, a person shouldn’t even keep count).
Metta World Peace’s actions will be punished by the NBA, probably in a rather severe manner. But seeing as this has happened in the past, do we truly forgive him for this action? What about if it happens again? What if it happens and severely injures or kills a person? What if a person we know that has wronged us a number of times asks for the same thing? Do we offer them the same as a NBA player or celebrity? Are we showing favoritism if so?
How can we as a society keep things ‘on the level’ for all folks, regardless of socioeconomic status or number of Twitter followers?