I identify with Michael Vick…
Yes, that Michael Vick—the pro football quarterback who spent 21 months in prison for his involvement in a dog fighting operation.
I’m not saying his story in some way mirrors my story…
I’m not saying I understand his cruel treatment of our canine friends.
Nonetheless, I recently discovered that I do identify with him.
I came to this realization while watching a video clip of Vick performing in a game this season…
While running the ball out-of-bounds, he suddenly gripped the back of his thigh. A TV analyst informed us that Vick had suffered a hamstring strain on that play.
Automatically—without thinking—my hand went to the back of my own thigh.
In that moment, Michael Vick was no longer “the other”. In some small way, I felt his pain. I identified with him. I felt empathy.
Here’s another irony: if given enough time to think—to remember how I despised his past behavior—I might not have felt much empathy.
So, I can’t really pat myself on the back. Though I’m encouraged by my spontaneous feeling, I know that true acceptance must also involve the conscious mind…
The “Michael Vick Empathy Episode” gives me hope, by showing me my better nature. Yet it also keeps me humble, by showing me that I’ve still got a long way to go.
For those reasons, I’m including the “MVEE” in my personal mythology.
Does it also belong in our new public mythology?
That’s too much to ask. But hopefully, our new mythology will find stories that show us something of this same great human irony…
Stories that give us hope, while keeping us humble.
© 2013, Michael R. Patton
Glorious Tedious Transformation