Redemption. A big word. An even bigger promise.

Forgiveness. What we as a loving people should do for those who have seen and apologized for past errors, even egregious ones.

Are we such a puritanical people that we no longer believe redemption is possible? Are we such a self-righteous people that we can no longer forgive?

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made an egregious, racist error over 30 years ago. The act itself cannot be forgiven – but the man? If, in the intervening time, he has grown to believe in the value of every human being and put this belief to work trying to make life better for every Virginian, black or white, who should now judge him for an action he has deplored?

Are we saying people cannot grow and change for the better? Are we going to dissuade anyone with a skeleton in a closet in a house they no longer inhabit from running for office? How many good people will that rule out? How much will we as a nation lose?

Please don’t let deep and valid dismay at this past ugliness blind us to the ramifications of assuming the worst about the present man. If Northam’s ongoing actions indicate residual racism, I full-heartedly join those asking for his resignation. If not, I believe, deeply, in personal redemption – and am awed more by those able to outgrow a flawed past than by those taught the values I hold dear right from birth.

Pamela Blake


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