Compassion & Consequences

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

scaleIn view of the consequences given to OU SAEs, an OU professor wrote the following … “rather than confronting, challenging, AND teaching; a college community merely washed their hands and decided that their students were beyond redemption. While Bob Stoops and President Boren were making the heroic rounds as defenders of civility, in my humble opinion, they missed a wonderful opportunity to teach their students how to live, disagree, and unite as a civil community. They perpetuated our society’s Hunger Games philosophy of total annihilation- blame them, shame them and erase them.”

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While there are some good things to consider in the article, this is a shocking assessment filled with enormous assumptions that seem to reflect an ever-growing moral fog (I’ll expand on this in a future post).

It is suggested in the above article that nothing about the response of the university was confrontational, challenging and educational. It is assumed that expelling students and closing a fraternity house were simply actions of expedience, not attempts at redemption. Finally, the consequences imposed by the school’s administration are likened to “total annihilation.” Is expelling a student really equivalent to annihilation?

What if, contrary to the professor’s assessment, the actions taken by the university were everything she claims they were not? What if real and immediate consequences served as wonderfully redemptive tools of confrontation and education? What if the OU officials actually took a far more difficult route of expulsion verses perpetuating the widespread accommodation that characterizes our culture? What if the student’s dismissals weren’t acts of erasure, but rather sobering expressions of loving correction?

Discipline isn’t by definition heartless, expedient, or destructive. Rightly administered, it is actually loving and redemptive – and here is the key – not only for the offender, but also for the offended. Consequences reflect the very real value of loss experienced by all who are touched by the offense. Consequences also serve as a deterrent to others who might perpetrate similar behavior.

I find it interesting that those who are suggesting the university’s response was excessive minimize the “9 second video” as nothing more than college immaturity and foolishness. If it’s really no big deal, then why is it such a big deal in our culture? Given the national hostility over questions of race in recent months (widespread violence against property and persons), how can we treat the malice of those nine seconds as anything less than shooting off fireworks in a warehouse full of explosives? The gravity of that chant is far greater than mere tomfoolery.

The SAE chant has, in fact, caused immense damage. Expulsion (given for far lesser transgressions) rightly reflects the severity of the offense. But the actions taken by the university do not prohibit compassion. I would argue that it is incumbent upon us to extend grace, mercy and forgiveness to those students while they experience the consequences of their behavior. We can humbly come alongside them and offer hope that they can recover from this, and that we are willing to help. Their future is not defined by what the university has done, but by their response to the discipline they have been given.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV)

Personally, I was encouraged by the decisive response of university leadership, the unity displayed by students standing publicly against racism, and the immediate response of compassion particularly shown in corporate prayer for all who have been touched by those 9 seconds … offenders and offended alike.

Finally, let’s be honest … all of us have repulsive moments in our past we would absolutely hate to go viral. It would serve us well to keep that in mind as we stand against the moral ills of our day. We should be wary of self-righteous contempt for others whose failures are on public display. It could just as easily be us. Having said that, let’s not let our fallibility erode our ability to stand against moral compromise. Let’s lock arms and call one another to much better than the degradation of another human being whose skin happens to be a different color than our own.

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