SOME years ago I read how an Indian 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.
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, and I knew what she was telling me was if a God above could forgive, then why couldn’t she? 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 friend’s behalf?” asked the General.
“Your Excellency,” said the man, “There is one thing you have never tried. You have not tried pardoning 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, but how wrong we are.
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!”
It’s a new year and as I hear about more and more incidents where we as a nation cannot forgive hurts inflicted on us in the past, by invaders, or conquerors, I wonder how much time we will unnecessarily spend in reopening wounds with those who are dead and gone. Isn’t it time we as a country show our superiority and instead of hitting out at the past start building the future?
It’s not just statesmanship our leaders need to show, but wisdom and maturity. Stop using the past for garnering votes, instead teach people to pardon the past, and build a strong, vibrant future! There’s much happening in our nation we can be proud of, but for the world to see this we need to move out of the pettiness of retaliation, which unfortunately is all that is being seen, into the bigness of pardon..!