Archive for June, 2012

The Call for Forgiveness in Nigeria, a National Pain Reliever

Nigerian Tribune. Saturday, June 23 2012. Peter Salawu, a college student at Federal Polytechnic Bida, Niger State, called on the people of Nigeria today to consider forgiving one another as a way to quell bomb blasts and other acts of aggression in his country.

“Let us remove thoughts of revenge from our hearts and begin to love unconditionally; it heals our relationship and lives. Think of forgiveness, not so much as an act, but as a lifestyle. Try to forgive and forget, let by-gone be by-gone. Enough is enough of bomb blasts and terrorism in our beloved country, Nigeria.”

According to Federal Polytechnic Bida student Peter Salawu, “To ensure a better Nigeria, let us learn how to forgive and bury the hatchet and let the sleeping dog lie, because nothing good comes out of revenge, rather it complicates issues by making people kill their fellow brothers without having a rethink.

“I used to think that by withholding forgiveness from my offenders they would suffer. I later realized that I was the one suffering when I finally understood the power of forgiveness, it was truly enlightening. I discovered that I have a lot more freedom, felt happier and focused.”

Full report here.

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I was 6 1/2 years old. It was late summer and I was outside alone wearing a Tee-shirt and shorts. We lived in a suburb of Los Angeles. Our driveway separated our neighbors’ grass. The lady next door came out of her front door with a plate in her hands. She walked down the 3 steps from her porch and came directly toward me. She had cookies and wanted to know if I would like one. I looked and said yes. But instead of giving me one right away, she backed up toward her house all the way up the stairs and into her house.

I followed slowly and hesitated before going into her house. But my focus was on getting a cookie so I kept following her into the house. I was led by her down a dark hallway to a left turn where she disappeared from sight. When I stepped into the room, I saw a man lying naked on a bed and suddenly the lady was violently yanking off my shorts and underwear and T-shirt.. She brutally sexually assaulted me causing me a lot of pain and bleeding. Then she picked me up like a sack of potatoes and violently threw me on the bed causing my joints to all feel like they were coming apart. Then the man put his knees on both sides of me and hit me hard in the ribs and back. Then he laid on top of me so I couldn’t breath and hurt me trying to penetrate me. He hurt me a long time. I just closed my eyes. They insulted me and made fun of me.

Finally, the man finished and left me alone for a moment. He rolled over and got something off a table next to the bed. It was a knife. He pit the knife to my throat and said if I told anyone what happened he knew where I slept and would come into my bedroom at night and cut my throat. He repeated this several times while pressing the knife hard against my throat and then slid the knife across my throat cutting it from side to side deep enough to make it bleed, but not pour out blood. They kicked me out saying I was stupid and an idiot. I had a terrible time getting my clothes on and couldn’t open the door. And each second they were more threatening and saying things to me to scare and intimidate me.

I never said anything to anyone for over 40 years. I hate these people for what they did to me that day and for messing up my life; living in fear and being filled with rage. But I need to let this go and get on with what is left of my life and that is why I told my story here.

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How do I know when and if I am forgiving? What does it feel like? I am a young woman from a normal (read: alcoholic, broken, etc.) family. Now, in times of stress, when I know I should forgive myself, or my partner, I feel only anger or numbness. I want peace, and I want to learn to forgive. Can you tell me where to start, and how i’ll know I’m forgiving? Thank you.

This is an important question. You will know that you have begun to forgive when you wish the other person well. This wishing-the-other-well may start as just a glimmer in your heart at first, but then it grows.

Anger is usually the place where forgiveness begins because when we forgive, we react to unfair treatment and our first reaction is likely to be anger or numbness, just as you describe. So, you are not alone in these feelings.

When you start a forgiveness process, please be aware that you are giving mercy to the one who hurt you. You are willing to get rid of resentment and to offer goodness of some kind to him or her. This takes time, so please be gentle with yourself.

As you continue to forgive, this idea of merciful goodness toward the one who was unfair builds and gives you a sense of hope and well-being. These feelings can be strong motivators to continue to forgive.

Do you have some sense of what forgiveness feels like? Please write again if you need more clarification.

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Do You Want to Become a Forgiving Person?

“I hope you are beginning to see that forgiveness is not only something you do, nor is it just a feeling or a thought inside you. It pervades your very being. Forgiveness, in other words, might become a part of your identity, a part of who you are as a person. Try this thought on for size to see if it fits: I am a forgiving person. Did that hurt or feel strange? Try it again. Of course, to say something like this and then to live your life this way will take plenty of practice. Part of that practice is to get to know the entire process of forgiveness”

Excerpt from the book, The Forgiving Life, page 79.

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Rodney King Forgives Officers Who Beat Him

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM – Rodney King, who became a symbol for civil rights and police brutality in 1991, was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool in Rialto, California on Sunday.

King was 25 years old and on parole from a robbery conviction when he was stopped by police for speeding on March 3, 1991. According to the Detroit Free Press, four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with batons, kicked him and shot him with stun guns.

King suffered a broken eye socket, numerous skull fractures, and facial nerve damage in the beating. Meanwhile, a man videotaped most of the incident and gave a copy to a TV station.

Before his death, King said he had forgiven the officers involved in his beating.

“Yes, I’ve forgiven them, because I’ve been forgiven many times,” he said last year, 20 years after the beating. “I have to be able to forgive — for the future, for the younger generation coming behind me, so… they can understand it and if a situation like that happened again, they could deal with it a lot easier.”

After the Rodney King beating, a three-month trial took place in predominantly white Simi Valley, and three of the officers were acquitted of all charges. There were no black members on the jury. A year later, two of the officers were found guilty of civil rights charges.

As a result of the 1991 verdict, Los Angeles faced a series of fiery riots over three days that killed 55 people and injured more than 2,000. During the third day of riots, King said: “People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?”

Read the full story.

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