Sunday, April 16, 2006

"To Err is Human ...

... to forgive, Divine."

Maybe so.

Then again, maybe not.

I was watching the news over supper last night, and saw a very affecting story about a little girl who was shot in the spine by a guy a while back. During his sentencing hearing, she and her mother were brought in to give the victim impact statement.

The little girl, who will possibly be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life (unless there is a medical breakthrough that can repair the damage), tearfully forgave the man who shot her. Her mother also extended her forgiveness. As I say, it was a very affecting story.

In the Sunday Times (of London), Minette Marrinn wrote today that forgiveness was indeed an inhuman quality. She cited a female vicar who recently resigned her parish because she felt that she could not reconcile her personal feelings with Christian requirements of forgiveness (she lost a relative in the London transit bombings).

I have always thought that forgiveness always requires some measure of forgetfulness. In order to forgive an injury, you have to forget that you were injured. However, no one really forgets anything. How, then, can one forgive?

There is an old saying that "blood cries out for blood." It's one of the basic foundations of the death penalty, the primitive need to exact vengeance on those who injure us.

Remember Poe's story The Cask of Amontillado? Montresor's family motto was nemo me impune lacessit - "no man injures me with impunity." And so it is. A good part of the world is consumed in a spiral of vengeance that has as its basis old injuries, slights and insults. Much of the current mess in the Middle East goes back to several causes: the Crusades, colonialism, conflicts over land, conflicts over tribal God-figures, etc. etc. etc.

Who will be the first among those to step up and say, "I will forget this injury, and therefore forgive?"


Blogger BlondeSense Liz said...

I will forget this injury and therefore forgive!

There I said it. I don't really have a problem forgiving because I have a terrible memory and can't usually remember what I was mad at.

You know something? I'd forgive Bush et al, if they'd just come clean and go away.

3:59 PM EDT  

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