Monday, February 14, 2011

Second Chance

How many of us in life wish for a second chance, to prove ourselves, to do better at something we desperately wish for, or maybe go back in time and erase our wrongdoings??? I think every single one of us. And now, let us think of it in this way, how many of us are ready to give others a second chance to do any of the above??? Not many, I think.

That is the biggest flaw of human nature; we want to be trusted, but when it comes to others, one mistake is enough to make the person untrustworthy. India is known to be a soft nation, forgiving criminals, terrorists and antisocial elements, by keeping the sentence term as minimal as possible. But, that is not the second chance I am talking about. People committing petty crimes or even having served sentence for a while are never looked at the same way. Their existence in the society becomes taboo. Nobody wants to employ them, nobody wants to befriend them or even be acquainted to them. So should these people be given a second chance?

If someone was on the suffering side due to the person in question, their answer would be a blatant no, and understandably so. But, if you were to look at it from a neutral perspective or even put yourself in their shoes, wouldn't you want to know what caused the error in judgement? I would, because I know it is human to make mistakes and expect everything to be taken care of. I would want to know what caused that person to act in unacceptable ways. And this I say, when it is a genuine mistake. I would not like to be in the shoes of people who feel no regret for their actions.

I had read about Dr. Kiran Bedi running social development programmes for inmates and providing them with  vocational training to be able to sustain themselves once they are released. For that, and for many other reasons, I have great respect for such a strong and visionary lady. I can never forget what she said, in her address a couple of years back. She questioned how much the empowerment would be really worth, if the society was not ready to employ the inmates and give them a second chance? And that thought has lingered on in my mind for a long time.

It was only put to rest, when I realized that a lot of the prisons here run a programme for inmates with minimal criminal offence. They refer to these inmates as "Productive Day Workers" and these people are assigned jobs at different union firms like libraries, museums, etc. They are given designated shifts and are paid for it, so that they can gather some money for when they are released. I know of such internal ventures in Indian prisons too. But, the fact that Productive Day Workers are given an experience certificate, helps them to procure a job later.

I really value and appreciate the thought behind giving them this second chance. A chance to live life normally, to right their wrongs, to repent and to be a better person. The Productive Day Worker at my workplace said that he was charged with drunken driving and has ever since regretted it. It was one night of miscalculated moves, which luckily did not harm anyone. And that made me think, how many of us have had a weak moment where we could have done some wrong? Would we not want people to forgive us, to give us a chance to prove that we are really better than that??? Life rarely gives people second chances, as to making a mistake and not having to face a regrettable consequence. But when it does, who are we to stop them from using this chance to their benefit.

We have to think of where that person is coming from , what he/she went through to come to that point. And maybe then, we would have a better perception of their actions. And to our shock, if we thought in depth about it and applied the same conditions to us, we might find ourselves doing the same things. Give it a thought, what would you want society to do for you then??? Give you a second chance or maybe make you bitter enough to go against them (once more).........

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