In Biblical history, the Old Testament is literally a lore made up of stories where the characters were not given second chances. Adam and Eve got their penalties at the first offense. The builders of the Tower of Babel got their languages all mixed up when they attempted to build a structure to the clouds – where they think heaven was! Then the evil people at the time of Noah were drowned en masse without the benefit of confession and forgiveness. Of course everyone knows what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah where the homos and psychos reside – they were obliterated with fire! What a horrible way to go!
The Christian doctrines have contributed to the concept of “second chances.” Here the road leads to the Vatican during one of my visits to Rome in the ’90s.
But the New Testament changed all that. In that second instalment of the sacred books, the sacrament of penance and forgiveness came into being. People were given “second chances” to reform and repent from their evil ways.
In some occasions, society frowns on giving a second chance to those who don’t deserve it – like this government vehicle whose plate number was washed out so it could be used on a weekend, which is prohibited by law.
That probably set the tone for the modern concept of having a second chance in life, whether it comes from circumstances or from other people.
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Circumstances, we have a couple of examples from history. For instance, Winston Churchill was an ordinary soldier who fought in the English colonies in South Africa. He suffered defeat and frustration and was even held prisoner at one point. But circumstances opened opportunities for him to become one of Great Britain’s statesmen during the dark years of the Second World War.
Winston Churchill (left) and Abraham Lincoln had their life’s second chances, took it and made their mark in history.
There is also the case of the American President Abraham Lincoln. He was a failure in school and in the practice of law. He seldom had any won legal cases during his time and people looked at him with contemptuous humor because he was a lean 6’4” who according to them does not make him look outstanding. Of course, we knew he went into politics – lost some elections but at one point became the United States President. And what a time to lead a nation! He is known today as the President who ended slavery and bigotry against black people.
Second chances are quite common between persons. Many people see a doctor who was able to provide cure for a dread disease as a God given somebody who just gave a desperate person a second chance at life. And then, there’s the kind boss, who forgave the errant employee. In some cases, though, particularly in professional situations, second chances are not the norm and they depend so much on the gravity of the offense.
Employees and employers sometimes need second chances in their professional affairs.
Circumstantial second chances are hard to come by and often these depend on being at the right place and the right time, which is rare! What then motivates people to give second chances? In the case of a doctor, most times, they have both their oath and their personal ethical and religious principles. In cases of employers, they just have a larger percentage of the good rather than the dark side. People are lucky if they come under bosses with more good and philosophical righteousness in themselves. Bosses as purveyors of second chances are not absolute. Who knows they may also need it as some time? Everyone indeed needs second chances.
It seems the world’s poor need second chances at every turn. Sadly, however, the poor ‘s chances are hard to come by. These two kids are from Pokhara, Nepal during one of my missions to that country in the mid ’90s.