(posted for Poets United Think Tank prompt: forgiveness)
I know all the words about forgiveness. I've done the work, and I can talk the talk. "Holding onto anger and hatred is like drinking poison, and hoping the other guy dies." "We forgive for ourselves, not for the other person." And "Until we forgive, there is no healing."
"Who am I, now?" this good man asks, "now that I am no longer a doctor,
I no longer have a wife, or two daughters, or a home? Who am I now?"
Today I watched a heartbroken man speak of his heartbreak, of the hole in his heart and the hole in his soul caused when two ex-convicts on parole left their halfway house, chose his house at random, beat him unconscious, tied him up, raped and assaulted and tortured his wife and daughters, then poured gasoline over them and set the house on fire. Still tied up, he managed to roll himself up the stairs and out the basement door,rolling across the lawn to the neighbours to get his family help, as his house and his family were burning. Help came too late.
"Who am I now?" he asks, "now that I no longer have my daughters and their future,
which was my future? Who am I now?"
He began a Foundation to do good works in the name of his wife and daughters. "By doing good works, in their honor, I believe goodness will overcome evil," he said. "I have a jagged hole in my heart, a jagged hole in my soul. I don't think it will ever go away. But waves of goodness, when they come, help to smooth the jagged edges a little."
"Who am I now?" he asks, "now that I am no longer a doctor, no longer a husband,
now I no longer have a home,
or a family. Who am I now?"
The interviewer spoke about forgiveness. I knew the question was coming and I rejected it for him. How could he possibly ever forgive such bestial acts? "Do you think you can forgive?" He looked back steadily. "You can forgive someone who slaps you in the face. You can forgive someone who insults you. You can forgive someone who causes an accident. But forgiving the essence of evil is not appropriate. No, I cannot forgive."
He said, and the words rang true and right, that forgiving the essence of evil
is not appropriate,
and thus, he cannot forgive.
If you wish to support the foundation Dr. Petit started in their name, information is available at http://www.petitfamilyfoundation.org/