A recent case of a white actor confessing he wanted to kill a black man some decades earlier has me worried. It's not the confession - it's the reaction to it.
This man grew up in the midst of the turmoil of the Irish battles, so his views on violence were distorted. Someone raped a friend of his, and he was so angry he wanted to do something. He didn't, and decades later he admitted it. He grew up.
Is he now perfect? Hardly. I don't know him, but I can say that with complete confidence. He is human, therefore he is less than perfect. As are those who condemn him. I've shared this elsewhere but I had another reminder recently when I watched a film about the Salem witch trials. To my eyes, there seems little difference.
So how do we know the change and growth is real? The only way to tell is to observe over time, and even then we can't be sure he's not just a very good actor. I am a sceptic by nature, although I'm trying to have a more positive view these days.
I am particularly dubious when people claim to have found religion to avoid the consequences of bad actions. I've recently read a book by Charles Colson. (For those who don't remember, he was a key figure in Watergate.) This book was published after his death and included a number of thoughts he'd had for his radio show, but never used. He was obviously a changed man, who didn't hide from what he'd done, but the things he did after he was released from prison were powerful evidence that he had moved on from that experience.
People (apart from the dead) grow. I've done more growing since I turned 60 than at any other time I can recall (obviously I can't recall my babyhood). Therefore I have to allow for and even expect other people to have grown. When I see the mass over-reaction to such incidents, I'm disturbed. We've seen throughout history regimes try and control the thoughts of their people. Orwell showed this in his classics, as did "The Matrix".
There are always people free to think for themselves. The current trend of letting the mass media (and especially social media) dominate and influence and even manipulate our thinking is perturbing. Yes Minister is my favourite show (it's still dragged out over Brexit). It showed a classic way to get the right (but contradictory) answers to questions. Fortunately there are still people concerned enough about this that to suggest that we've not yet all stopped thinking for ourselves.