Wednesday, August 15, 2007
"It is either Valjean or Javert"
Let me follow up on some of my thoughts examined below on the Vikings' decision to sign Fred Evans, an athlete that has been arrested a couple of times.
My recent readings (Dostoevsky's Demons and Yoder's The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism) and listenings (the soundtrack to the musical Les Miserables) have put the concept of redemption prominently in my head. Les Miserables offers us the contrast of Javert and Jean Valjean. Javert is loyal to the law above all else and believes criminality is in the essence of the person: once a criminal, always a criminal, with no justifiable crimes and no room for personal growth and redemption. Valjean, the one-time prisoner and hardened criminal, offers us a sign of humankind's redemption: when a man he robs forgives him rather than punishes him, he converts to a life devoted to God and to selflessness toward his fellow people.
The contrast of Javert and Valjean offers us much for life, including how we choose to view athletes. Shall we take the perspective of Javert, allowing the taint of a crime to follow an athlete through his career, hounding him, preventing him from moving on? Or do we recognize Valjean, a man who through another man's forgiveness comes to understand redemptive power and changes his life, and allow athletes the same opportunity?
You have a choice. But remember that when Valjean shows mercy to Javert, Javert is unable to accept this mercy, and kills himself. Perhaps Javert's worldview separates us from our fellow people and dooms us to solitude. Perhaps Valjean's worldview shows us a deeper way to connect to our fellow people.
Welcome to Minnesota, Fred Evans.