Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vengeance or forgiveness?

One of the key arguments in favor of the death penalty is that it gives the families of victims some measure of closure and 'justice' by way of vengeance. While this may possibly be true in some cases, there are other families who have found solace by taking steps in the opposite direction. Witness the following recent news stories:
  • Chad Grossman, of Madison, Wisconsin, forgave his mother's and sister's killer, opting instead to blame inadequate mental health care funding. "Without proper care," he said, "things like this can happen." (The killer had previously sought help for mental health issues.)
  • In Iran, a man named Bilal was seconds away from being hanged for killing another man in a street fight when the victim's mother stood on a chair in front of him, gave him a wallop across the face, said "Forgiven!" and then proceeded to remove the noose, thus halting the execution.
  • Lucille Patrick, the mother of a slain Miami police officer has forgiven her son's killer, even though there are as of yet no known suspects. "When he left this world," she said of her son, "he gave me peace."
  • Confronting her son's killer in court, Newark mom Pamela Lighten said that, guided by faith, she has forgiven him. Nevertheless, she upbraided him for allowing "street violence to consume your soul. Black-on-black crime has to stop." Before taking her seat, she said "May God have mercy on your soul."
Fortunately for me, I have no idea how difficult it must be to muster the moral strength it takes to offer true forgiveness in the face of a devastating loss, nor do I want to ever find out. However, it would seem to be a much bigger way to honor a loved one's memory than simply compounding one murder with another.