SOME years ago I had tears as I read the small news item tucked between killings and murders; it said an Indian man sentenced to death by UAE’s Supreme Court for murdering a girl had been pardoned by the victim’s parents!
As a father of two daughters I can only look at such an act of mercy as beyond human understanding, divine and holy. I remember some years ago meeting Mrs Gladys Staines whose husband and two sons were gruesomely burnt to death by fanatics in India. I looked at her face as she spoke to me and wondered how she had managed to forgive those killers. “How?” I asked silently. She looked at me and from her soul came a smile that smoothed out her grief torn face. I cannot dwell on such forgiveness, because it is beyond my comprehension, but other incidents shed light on what such an act is all about:
Many years ago the Duke of Wellington was about to pronounce the death sentence on a confirmed deserter. Deeply moved, the great General said, “I am extremely sorry to pass this severe sentence, but we have tried everything, and all the disciplines and penalties have failed to improve this man who is otherwise a brave and good soldier!”
A friend and comrade of the man who was standing nearby asked if he could speak. “What is it you want to say on your friends behalf?” asked the General. “Your Excellency,” said the man, “There is one thing you have never tried. You have not tried forgiving him!” The General pardoned the man and it worked; the soldier never ever deserted and ever after showed gratitude to the Iron Duke. I have over the years seen, that only the strong can forgive, but most often others take it as a case of weakness, strange isn’t it? We think to retaliate is strength, but to be kind, to be gentle, to forgive is being spineless; how wrong we are.
Many years ago hidden in a secluded corner of a New York cemetery I saw a small gravestone polished smooth by the wind and weather of many years. The stone bore no name, nor was there any date inscribed on it. Still legible on the face of the stone, however, in letters that neither wind nor weather had been able to erase was one solitary word, ‘forgiven.’ No monument, no obelisk, no vaulted mausoleum marked the final resting place of the unknown person buried there, only a stone and a single word.
The noblest vengeance says an English Proverb is to forgive. And said Francis Bacon, “In taking revenge, a man is even with his enemy, but in passing it over, he is superior-for it is a prince’s part to pardon!” Pardon me for ending with a joke without I hope taking away from the seriousness of the subject: A preacher’s sermon was Forgive Your Enemies. He asked, how many have forgiven their enemies? About half held up their hands. He then repeated his question. Now about 80% put up their hands. He then repeated his question again. All responded, except one elderly lady. “Mrs. Jones, are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” asked the preacher kindly.
“I don’t have any.” she replied. “Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?” “Ninety-three!” “Mrs. Jones, please come down in front and tell the congregation how a person cannot have an enemy in the world.” asked the preacher. The little old lady tottered down the aisle, and said, “It’s easy, I just outlived all them idiots..!”

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