I believe in second chances. But what does that mean, really? It means I am willing to give my friends (and even to some extent people with whom I am just acquainted) the benefit of the doubt when they do something I consider a mistake, or something that is just intolerable to me. We’re talking about results here – I give a second chance when things don’t work out. But I do predicate that second chance on an understanding that the person did what they did for mistaken wrong reasons, or for the right reasons. To me, the important factor is whether they were making the right choices.
I believe that humans are free-willed – we are capable of making decisions using our minds, and we are not just acting in reaction to context. Since I also believe that many times there is a “right” thing to do, I also believe that people can choose to act in a way consistent with the “right” thing in those cases. When a person makes a mistake, I want to forgive. The times when I can’t are the times when I think the person is making choices inconsistent with the “right” and doesn’t want to reconsider those choices at all.
My principle, I think, is: People are defined by their choices, and merely influenced by their experiences. This is a complicated notion to get to the bottom of, however… so many assumptions are in play here (free-willed, comparable “rightness,” understanding of other people’s choices) that in many ways I am just theorizing, but I think this is illustrative of my principles.