Adele Elliott: Rehabilitation

May 22, 2009

Adele Elliott - [email protected]


The lyrics from a classic Linda Ronstadt song keep rolling through my head. "Heart like a wheel, when you bend it you can''t mend it." 


That''s certainly true of physical injuries. I can trace every ache in my body to one of my clumsy falls. It seems that bones and joints never completely heal. They have a sort of memory that emerges, unexpectedly, like a distressing dream that just won''t evaporate in the sunlight. We are forever haunted by the things we want most to forget. 


Tendons and skeletons, which have no real brain, can recall old hurts. So how then, can we expect to fix the spiritual wounds? 


This week Michael Vick was released from prison for his ownership in a dog fighting training ground and arena. He served a little time, suffering both public humiliation and a huge loss of income from his career as a pro football player. Now, he will be doing community service work with the Humane Society. 


That must have been a really good prison, to create such a turnaround. He completed 19 months of his 23-month sentence and is a changed man. Vick grew up in a culture of dog fighting, participating in the abuse of animals even as a boy. It seemed "normal" to him. (There''s a clear case for questioning "family values.") 


I wish more criminals were so easily restored. How seldom we hear about convicts really going straight. More often we are told that prison is a graduate school for crime. Those who enter seldom come out improved. 


Famous people always seem to be going into rehab, usually for addictions that are only damaging to themselves. Soon, they are out clubbing with their ultra-cool posse, and deep into the behaviors that got them committed. Whether they go to the Betty Ford Clinic or someplace less pricey, rehab does not appear to work. 


Still, we pray for the best for them all. 


Michael Vick''s real undoing was not remorse. He was turned in by an informant. No matter how justice was accomplished, the result is that this reign of intense cruelty was ended. Some of his dogs were saved, many, beyond rehabilitating, were destroyed. 


The south is notorious for dog- and cock-fighting rings. They operate, surreptitiously, in cities and rural areas. I have heard rumors about one very near to me. And, I am watching. 


Maybe you are suspicious about some place in your neighborhood. Check it out. You could be a hero to a suffering animal. 


I truly want to believe that Michael Vick has a renewed respect for other living creatures. I have optimism and hope that starlets and their ilk will be successful at rehabilitation. Surely, the next time it will "take." But, then, I believe in fairies. 


There is another line to that Linda Ronstadt song, "... when harm is done, no love can be won." All any of us really want is love. Not doing harm is hardly enough. We must also protect others from harm. We are all, man and beast, travelers on this planet Earth. Let''s keep the wheels of kindness and love rolling. 


Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at [email protected]

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.