As a writer, I feel a moral responsibility towards my readers. That I write without malice and with genuine honesty. Second, that my thoughts and ideas emotionally resonate with you.
Since this is my debut article, I felt the need to write what is most personal to me. After all, what is most personal is the most genuine.
Everyone has been in a position where they have been disrespected, slighted, betrayed, or abused (physically, emotionally, and psychologically). But it is how we handle these unfortunate situations that define who we are. Our character. How one pursues conflict management and resolution affects how we view ourselves and the perception held by others.
With that, we must be conscious about how we control our emotions. Whether we should act on our emotions of anger, rage, or hatred. Or, we can stay composed the best way we can.
These decisions define our character.
Based on my experience of dealing with conflict, I learned that retaliation is not worth pursuing. Although it is perfectly natural to feel the need to act on those powerfully raw emotions. Retaliation provides little to no relief because it fails to heal the pain suffered from past transgressions.
How It’s Done
But are there reasonable limitations for pursuing retaliation over forgiveness?
Can a mother forgive the murderer who took her son’s life? Can a father forgive the murderer who took his daughter’s life? Can we forgive rapists? Can we forgive bombers? Are there acts that are so unforgivable that the person responsible for those actions should be deprived of forgiveness?
When I ponder these heinous crimes, I am left with deep uncertainty. Solely because one can truly answer these questions granted if one has been in that position before. Fortunately, I have not found myself to be in such a position. Therefore, I am obligated to turn back to history.
When I think of forgiveness, I think of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II who was shot and wounded in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. The shooter was apprehended and sentenced to life in prison by the Italian court. The Pope later forgave the shooter for the assassination attempt and requested to have him pardoned by the Italian president. The Pope later asked people to “pray for my brother…whom I have sincerely forgiven.”
When I think of forgiveness, I think of Donald Lacy who was the father of LoEshé Lacy. An unintended target of a gang shooting. Her killer, Christopher Smith, happened to be her childhood friend and classmate. After finding out the horrific news, Donald Lacy had the opportunity to be a judge, jury, and executioner. He received several calls from people who said they knew who killed his daughter, and they would be more than happy to take care of him.
Amid his anger, pain, and rage he responded, “I don’t want any retaliation.”
Smith was 16 years old when he took LoEshé’s life and was sentenced to 20 years to life. Lacy summoned up the strength after 20 years to meet with Smith face to face to tell him, “I forgive you.”
One Day At A Time
There is not a doubt in my mind that forgiveness is the ultimate strength that cannot be matched, manipulated, or sullied. It is the ability to suppress the devil inside of us and overshadow it with faith and goodness.
We must be mindful that the pain that comes with retaliation has a ripple effect that can hurt those that were never the target. So, we must ask ourselves, is it worth it? I refuse to shame those who reconciled with their wrongdoers because I have nothing but admiration for their strength.
Forgiveness is what prevents us from tarnishing our souls.
I have fallen victim to disrespect, abuse, and betrayal. I refused to pay attention to the red flags that occurred throughout my childhood because I wanted to see the good in people. I was taught that a person can change(granted if that person is willing to make those changes). I gave certain people the benefit of the doubt and it cost me later on.
“Happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.”
But I hold my head up because I realized I can either live the rest of my life regressing with regret or moving forward motivated to do the things that make me happy.
Every day I struggle with not responding to past provocation but I can honestly tell you that I am happy.