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Reconsideration: The Ultimate Question

Mar 30, 2009

That’s the bottom line in this grand debate, isn’t it? If there comes a time when the future of one person depends on your decision, and this person has failed in the past. How do you know when to give a second chance?

In the middle of the conflict last year, my mom criticized me for writing that infamous entry. She said that I am not a mother, and that’s why I couldn’t understand the other side of the issue. That remark stung. A lot. If it was some other person who told me that line and not my mother, I would have replied, “You are not a teacher. You don’t understand MY side.”

I also understand the need for giving second chances. My own brother was given a second chance when he was in high school. Just last year, a close friend of mine was reconsidered. I am extremely grateful for that. But that does not change what I think.

I remember what my boss told me before:

Rules are not written on stone, they are mere guidelines. You bend the rules under special cases. You have to consider the circumstances.

I didn’t reply because of the nature of the talk, but several things were running on my mind at that time. Sure, “special” circumstances can occur, something that was not anticipated when the rules were created. Maybe there is a valid reason why this person failed. You look into the history of the person, trying to determine whether his failure was due to his incompetence or caused by events that are out of his control. Maybe if given another chance, he would redeem himself. In any case, this is not a decision to be made lightly. You have to reflect on whether you will give a reconsideration or not.

Remember Jean Valjean, the lead character of Les Miserables? He was a notorious criminal when the priest took him in at the beginning of the novel. He repayed the priest’s kindness by stealing from him. He was caught eventually, but the priest vouched for him so that the police would let him go. That was the turning point in Jean Valjean’s life, and he spent the rest of his life helping other people.

What if your act of kindness is the turning point of another person’s life? Who knows, he might turn into another Jean Valjean. Your decision to reconsider this person may inspire him to redeem himself. If this person becomes successful in the future, it certainly warms the heart knowing that it all started when you gave him another chance.

But handing second chances like candy can be dangerous as well. A person might abuse your kindness if you keep on giving second chances. People will eventually notice that some people got away with breaking the rules. If this is done repeatedly, what are the rules for? Might as well do away with the rules, saving you the trouble of having to think of reconsiderations.

Finding the balance between upholding the rules and being compassionate is a tough task. It all boils down to the person being reconsidered. Does he deserve a second chance or not? This is a very risky decision. There’s a big gain if you are right, potentially saved someone’s life. But there is also a big loss if you’re wrong, potentially harming the integrity of the institution implementing the rules. For sure, this is not a decision that you will make without some background information.

Going back to the current issue, most people think that some of the kids involved do not deserve a second chance. If those people were sitting on the BOT, things would have turned out differently. But that is not the case, so I bet everyone is asking this question: Why do they deserve a second chance?

One final note, this time addressed to the one asking for a second chance. Reconsideration is a rare priviledge. You request for it, you don’t demand it. If it was not granted, you should accept your failure and move on. If granted, you should be thankful and do your damn best to redeem yourself.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mar 17, 2010 3:28 pm

    A very insightful post Tina…

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