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Opening Arguments

Second chances

How to find interesting, thought-provoking stuff online:

Tony Dungy was back in Indy this week to work on one of his favorite causes, trying to keep kids on the straight and narrow:

Dungy, in partnership with Indiana Project Safe Neighborhoods, narrates a video called "There's Not Always a Second Chance," focused on the stories of young men who made choices that changed their lives forever, 6News' Jennifer Carmack reported.

[. . .]

Featured in the video is a man named Ronald, who was only 13 years old when he killed an elderly couple during a botched robbery as he and friends were looking for money to go to the Indiana State Fair.


"We actually had the choice of running or committing a double homicide. I obviously chose the latter," he said in the video.


At 15, he became the youngest inmate at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, sentenced to 107 years.

The "second chance" in the program's title for some reason made me think of the famous F. Scott Fitzgerald observation, "There are no second acts in American Lives," so I started hunting around the Web for anything on that quote. That led me to this nifty little essay by author Steven Pressfield ("The Legend of Bagger Vance," "Gates of Fire") about David Mamet's book "Three Uses of the Knife" and what Mamet calls "Second Act Problems":

Åct Two sucks. In our life and our art. (And Act Two can come at any time in our lives; it doesn't have to wait for our middle years. You can hit Act Two at nineteen, alas!) In Act Two,we're stuck. We started out with the noble goal of draining the swamp; suddenly we find ourselves up to our asses in alligators.

What exactly do we want in our second act? We want to get to Act Three. We want, Mamet says,

the precipitation of the end struggle


Sat, 07/10/2010 - 6:12pm

I think the recent death of former Sen. Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, shows that there can clearly be a second chance.