Archive for June, 2015
When I immigrated from my home country to another that I thought was more free-thinking than mine, I was met with discrimination. Owners and even workers thought that I was taking jobs that should belong to those who already were citizens of that country. It is ironic that this new country of mine, from an historical perspective, had many, many immigrants come into the country in the last century. The people keeping me out of a job are the descendants of immigrants. Yet, they cannot see now that I have much in common with their own families. Their lack of sight is my occasion to forgive them. I may not have a job yet, but I do have my faith, my convictions, and peace of mind and heart. And with perseverance, I will land that new job soon.
Can I forgive someone who has not directly hurt me? For example, I am a teacher and one of my students was deliberately hurt by another student. Can I forgive the one who acted badly to a student whom I admire for his honesty and perseverance?
You describe a situation which some philosophers call secondary forgiveness. In other words, you have been hurt indirectly rather than directly by a person’s injustice toward someone who is important to you. Whenever an injustice occurs which hurts you, then you are free to forgive. This can even occur when you do not even know the victim(s) but experience hurt nonetheless. An example of this tertiary forgiveness is this: the leader of your country enters into what you consider to be an unjust war with another country. You can forgive the leader if that is your choice to do so.
I heard recently that a top peace negotiator was discouraged by the events in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. He said that the divide between the two is “unsolvable.”
Having just spent two weeks in Israel, I am convinced that there is a solution to the entrenched political and spiritual warfare in the broken Middle East. It is not an immediate but instead a long-range solution requiring patience and much perseverance. It is this: education on family, school, and community levels regarding what forgiveness is, what it is not, how to practice it, and how to bring it alongside justice. Those so schooled, perhaps in the next several generations, very well may find the way to community peace. “Justice first” may never come.
We sometimes think that those who hurt us have far more control over us than they actually do. We often measure our happiness or unhappiness by what has happened in the past.
My challenges to you today are these: Your response of forgiveness now to the one who hurt you can set you free from a past influence that has been toxic. Try to measure your happiness by what you will do next (not by what is past). Your next move can be this—to love regardless of what others do to you.
Daily Mail.com, London, UK – A 74-year-old woman in Bournemouth, England (about 2-hours southeast of London) has appealed to a municipal judge to help the driver who ran down her husband avoid a prison sentence.
Patricia Machin said she had no “ill thoughts or grudges” against Brian Williamson, the driver of the car that killed her 77-year-old husband Gerrard as he was crossing the road to buy his morning paper. Mrs Machin even hugged the sobbing defendant as he left court after receiving a suspended sentence.
“It isn’t that I have forgiven Brian, it was that I never blamed him in the first place,” Mrs. Machin said. “It was a mistake. He has suffered enough already and will have to live with what he did. I didn’t want to see him going to prison; he is someone’s son after all.”
In a letter to the sentencing judge, Mrs. Machin wrote:
“I have never for a single second had any sort of angry or vengeful thoughts towards this young man. If asked, he would confirm to you that just after the accident and his arrest, I comforted him in his distress. Even though at the time we stood beside a pool of Gerrard’s blood, and I was panicking, because having gone out to look for Gerrard, I was faced with the horror of the situation, I felt only pity for the driver.”
In a separate letter she sent Williamson just before the sentencing hearing she wrote:
“Today is a very important day and I will be in court to support you. On the day of the accident, however bad it was for me, I realise it was 1,000 times worse for you. Will you make me a promise, that you will get on with your young life, knowing that you will always be supported by my prayers?”