Thursday, August 20, 2009

To Forgive or Not To Forgive

I was reading the Facebook responses on my blog dealing with Drew Anderson. The responses brought me back to some of the responses given when I wrote about Michael Vick. Both men are facing ridicule for past criminal activity that raises strong public emotional sentiment. A common theme existed in both of my blog entries; forgiveness.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we distort this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13

In each statement, above, the call for forgiveness is made. As Vick moves on with the Eagles and Anderson awaits his fate many feel neither man is to be forgiven for their criminal acts. To forgive another does not translate to one condoning, approving or forgetting the act committed by that person; rather the act of forgiveness displays a basic tenet our country was founded on; second chances.

The United States of America was established on the backs of men, women, and children looking for a fresh start in the New World. The immigrants that traveled, some under the guise of slavery, the vast ocean to make it did so to create anew. Every year a story is printed about poorly crafted flotation devices, carrying more people than the craft can handle, attempting to reach the shores of the United States.

Those picketing the Eagles training facility and pressuring the Waconia City Council ought to understand that forgiveness is something our society needs to comprehend. Forgiveness does not translate to amnesia or acceptance of the crime committed.

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” – John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy nailed it when defining forgiveness. Forgive Vick and Anderson but do not forget their crimes. Is so far that one is able to learn from their past transgressions and not succumb to the evils of criminal activity again the forgiveness one gives is not for not.

Forgiveness and second chances are common tenets in major religions and free societies. What type of society will we become if forgiveness and second chances are not embraced?