Lance Scranton: What does it all mean?

The American Dream is an important part of the American Literature curriculum at Moffat County High School and one of my favorite units to teach.

Teaching students about what it means to live in a country that believes in opportunity, embraces optimism, and makes access to a future that allows us to pursue happiness is well worth the time. One of the most effective strategies of teaching and coaching is the necessity of striving for clarity so that students and athletes know what is meant.

One of the most enduring aspects of the American Dream is the fact that we believe in second chances. So many people who make up the wide swath of our country are living testaments of the opportunities made available for adjustments in our approach to life, or for some, a complete do over. Kobe Bryant, who died tragically a few weeks ago along with his daughter and friends in a helicopter crash is a testament to the power of second chances.

Many people remember the events in 2003 when Kobe was charged with sexual assault.  The charges were dropped but Kobe had to repair his marriage and make a different kind of commitment to his family, his team, his community, and his faith.

What makes our country great is that people can make whatever judgments they want about a famous basketball star but all reports point to a man who changed for the better. He embraced his Catholic faith, rekindled his marriage, became a devoted father, and worked hard to be a respected person within the Los Angeles Lakers organization and trusted mentor for professional athletes.

Everyone makes mistakes, but most of ours aren’t as public, and whoever you are it has always been part of the American Dream that we can seek forgiveness and redeem ourselves by pursuing the opportunity to be redefined by our actions. Our current culture isn’t very good at forgiveness and we seem to take more pleasure in exposing people than trying to help people through their mistakes.

Some choices people make go way beyond a second chance but when the opportunity to make amends and pursue a different path are made available; it can be a story worth sharing.

Anyone who has had access to the opportunity at a second chance should understand and embrace the fallibility of man and the incredible path toward redemption that our country affords each one of us.

It’s part of the optimism of The American Dream!   

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