Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Second Chances

Have you ever been given a "second chance"? A fresh opportunity to succeed after messing up badly? The truth is I wouldn't be writing this blog now if I hadn't been given some very significant second chances. I was encouraged last week by this news story:

jasmine[Ottawa] Mayor Larry O’Brien has hired a disgraced former communications staffer for a federal Tory minister as he revamps his office staff.

“We will soon be welcoming Jasmine MacDonnell as my new Communications Director,” [says] O’Brien. “Jasmine comes with excellent credentials and will be able to work closely with the media in both official languages.”

MacDonnell also comes with baggage. She resigned from Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt’s office in June after leaving sensitive briefing books in a television studio and, previously, leaving her audio recorder in a Parliament Hill washroom.

“That is not a résumé most of us around here would be jumping to,” said [one City Councillor].

[Later, O'Brien says,] “I have interviewed three highly qualified candidates and we chose Jasmine MacDonnell. We’re excited to have her join our staff.”

obrien[Two Councillors] said the mayor seems different since his leave from office for his criminal trial. Upon resuming office after his acquittal, O’Brien said he’d been thinking the city needs to do a much better job communicating to residents.... he wants to “turn over a new leaf” and [he had a] conciliatory attitude toward other councillors at his first council meeting on Wednesday. (quoted and abridged from The Ottawa Citizen, Sept 3, 2009)

You see, Mayor Larry O'Brien was just last month acquitted of criminal charges (influence peddling, having allegedly bribed a rival candidate for Mayor). The acquittal has given O'Brien a second chance at being Mayor of Ottawa. I venture to believe that when a person is given a second chance, they may be changed by that experience and become the kind of person with the right mix of mercy, insight and courage so as to be able to give someone else the gift of a second chance. I find myself agreeing with O'Brien that Jasmine MacDonnell is one of the most qualified Communication Directors in Canada, and totally deserving of a second chance. MacDonnell has been trashed in the press, but very likely she chose to fall on her sword to protect the reputation of the Natural Resources Minister who is in fact the one guilty of saying inappropriate things and leaving behind sensitive material. If MacDonnell did anything wrong, she is very likely to have learned from that, and thus be even more qualified, not less. Even back in June when Jasmine MacDonnell resigned, I found myself wondering if anyone would do the right thing and give her the second chance I believe she deserved. O'Brien's decision made me very happy.

When you've been given a second chance, perhaps the most extraordinary thing you can do is to give a second chance to someone else still in the exile you've been rescued from. May the God of Second Chances bless Mayor O'Brien and Jasmine MacDonnell. Yes, we believe in a God of Second Chances. Think about King David after his fall into sexual sin, Moses after killing the Egyptian or Saul after persecuting Christians. God has proven himself to be merciful, forgiving and the giver of second chances. Redemption is about making all things right. I thank God not only for a second chance, but also for giving me the faith to believe that others deserve a second chance too.


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