Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

We need to give Vick, Paris Hilton and others a chance to change their lives. Although we use the expression “a leopard cannot change its spots,” people can and do change. The proof of this is seen in the life of Jim Vance, news anchor for NBC4 in Washington, D.C. Last month he was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. He began broadcasting in D.C. in 1969 and moved to the anchor desk in 1972. Somewhere in Vance’s journey, he deviated from his pioneer success strategy and became addicted to drugs. Thankfully, the community supported him as he entered rehab and kicked the drug habit. Over his lifetime, Vance has earned 15 Emmys and has been named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine. He is a real model of personal restoration – taking our lives back.

This kind of personal transformation is at the heart of the American story. It is very American to believe deeply in the power of personal achievement based on hard work, initiative, and internal drive. This belief is mirrored in the stories of faith recorded in the Bible which enabled people to surmount seemingly immovable road blocks and obstacles. Let’s encourage Vick to do his time and pay his fines. After his suspension, he may very well come back to football – a better man and a better player.

I want to live in an America in which the Paris Hiltons get back on track and the Michael Vicks wake up and live up to their potential. Let’s give Vick, Hilton, and others a second chance to become the heroes of their dreams. I may sound naive, but I am tired of allowing negativism to rule the day.

You and I can create an environment in this nation that gives people space to change and mature --- a nation that gives celebrities space to create a second chance. Wouldn’t that be something?

Management theorist Stephen Covey writes, "It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one's heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize." Think about a day in which this exemplifies the nature of celebrity apologies. It may take the same strength of character for us to accept these apologies and allow for a second chance.

Let’s believe in people and let that belief change our world.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.