On September 11, 2012 one of the most notorious events of the Obama presidency took place at the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya when our ambassador was killed in a raid which was originally described by the administration as a possible retaliation for an anti-Muslim video filmed in the United States. My post was written six days later on the 17th. Interesting.
Our lecture for today, O cyberspace class, is the epistemology of the second chance. (Sometimes I just throw in a big word to see if anybody’s paying attention.) Frankly, I don’t remember much about epistemology from my scholarly life except that I heard it used in my undergraduate philosophy classes and my graduate studies in theology.
To refresh my memory, I looked up the definition and found the word epistemology involves knowledge and the justification of knowledge; but then the dictionary wandered off into a question of what is knowledge and how can it be justified and I immediately remembered why I dropped out of seminary. Way too much digression and iffiness and grey areas for a 23-year-old CPA who dealt in absolute numbers before answering a “call” to the ministry that was surely a wrong number.
I gave up absolutes many years ago, however, about the same time the numbers became images on a computer screen and lacked any connection to reality. Who knew if 2 + 2 equaled 4 any more and who cared?
So I’ve grown accustomed to vague responses and half-truths and tried to blend in with a landscape camouflaged by degrees of knowledge that are justified with competing strident voices blasting away at each other from polarized positions of territorial absolutes. Wow. Now there’s a mouthful to chew on.
Yep, nothing like trying to convince people you own a piece of knowledge when they don’t agree with you. You just can’t justify it to them no matter how hard you try and how loud you get. Because, see, they own a piece of knowledge, too, and it happens to be totally different from yours. And there’s the rub.
A good example is the current turmoil over an anti-Muslim video that was Made in the USA. The American President has denounced it, the American Secretary of State has apologized for the fact that it was filmed in California where they film every possible video you could ever think up without anybody checking to see if it’s inflammatory because that would require an army of Video Checkers; and the justification of the knowledge of the situation is irrelevant to a Muslim world that owns a different enlightenment which doesn’t include the concept of second chances.
That’s how it all goes downhill and the histrionics aren’t far behind. I’m wondering how many Muslims are golfers? If they were golfers, they would know about Mulligans. Mulligans are second chances.
If you hit a shot with your driver off the tee on the first hole and the little white golf ball vanishes mysteriously in deep woods closer to the fairway for the third hole than they are to the first hole and you know you’ll never be able to find it, you can say Mulligan and have a second chance to locate your own fairway again.
You may hit a beautiful shot for your Mulligan or you may not, but the important thing is you have a new opportunity. The American government asked for a Mulligan from a partner who doesn’t play the game the same way it does. The game is over before it even starts.
In our personal lives second chances are sometimes painfully obvious and at other times so subtle we may miss them. Lesson Number One: Be open and available and alert and don’t think you won’t ever need one. You will.
Lesson Number Two: When you get a second chance, try not to think of it as an opportunity to repeat mistakes. Mistakes are hard to take back so don’t blow the Mulligan.
Lesson Number Three: Be sure to tell your friends about your second chance. It may give them hope and inspire them to offer one or accept one. Honestly, can there be too many second chances going around?
Lesson Number Four: Your second chance may be your last chance. Seriously? Seriously.
Lesson Number Five: Never be afraid to take a second chance when you have one. As Franklin Roosevelt famously said when the Hounds of the Baskervilles were closing in around him, We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
And so, O cyberspace class, the lecture concludes with a little bit of knowledge mixed with a bunch of justification that adds up to the epistemology of the second chance as seen from the eyes of a 66-year-old who has had her own share of second chances and has, at various times in her life, blown them, needed a third or fourth, and had some of them bring incredible joy and happiness.
Be generous to those you love and even to those whose knowledge is different from yours. Ouch. Is that really necessary? Absolutely.