The Woman Who Forgave The Boy Who Almost Killed Her
(A lesson in forgiveness and the lack of it)
I had just finished writing an article titled, “The Conflicts of Retaliation and Forgiveness,” and was about packaging it for publication, when I heard (and later read) the news of a woman who forgave a teenager who almost killed her by throwing frozen turkey at her moving car and eventually shattering her facial bones. Some New York dailies reported it as “a lesson in forgiveness.” In these days of predominant negative reporting, it
is interesting to have the front page of newspapers and the headlines of radio and television news
“invaded” by a topic like forgiveness. About this same time, it was on the news that there was a supposed $11Million settlement deal between a popular actor and a hotel clerk regarding an incident in which the actor was said to have thrown a phone in frustration at the hotel clerk after the actor was upset by his inability to reach his wife in another country.
The public is not completely privy to all the minute details of either incident, but one could not help but marvel at the need for a whopping $11million dollar settlement even after the actor had gone on TV to apologize for his behavior. Permit it to be stated that the face of the hotel clerk after the incident showed a slight bruise on the side. Maybe he had suffered emotionally to the tune of $11Million, is that it? Perhaps some of us may not see any significance in this because of the common conviction in this society to always get back at another. The perspective has become more of a selfish than a selfless one. Vengeance and retaliation has become the order of the day, and yet we complain about lack of peace, harmony, and instability amongst people of the world today. Many societies have become too litigious that a child who suddenly becomes rich or popular could easily “sack” a mother or father who raised and managed him/her into “success.” People want to sue and make big money at the slightest chance and it matters not whether the sued is a person or entity. These days, the first instinct has become “can I sue and be allotted a huge sum of money?” rather than “can I possibly forgive the situation and move on?”
In the midst of the foregoing, one is consoled by such gestures as that of the forgiving woman who even worked with prosecutors to reduce the jail time of the teenager who harmed her. With her cooperation, the boy’s jail term was reduced to six months (from the range of Two-and-half to seven years). It was reported that the teenage boy and the forgiving woman shared a moment of hug and tears. The boy was to later say that the woman told her to turn a new leaf and move on with his life. But even more significant is the boy’s teary eye and remorseful declaration to reporters. “I love the woman. She is a wonderful person.” In the end, the woman faces her recovery in peace and many good wishes while the boy goes forth in life as a positively changed person with a memorable lifetime lesson in forgiveness. Such is the power of forgiveness and of course, love.
It may have been termed a “coincidence” that both incidences (of the forgiving woman and the $11Million hotel clerk) involved the throwing of objects, and that both incidences made headlines at the same time. However, as some would agree, there are no coincidences in life, but only the balancing and resolution of the factors of cause and effect in the grand scheme of life. For those who believe that no situation is an accident, and that there is a purpose for every relationship, there are yet some other angles to these stories. Souls have the opportunity of coming together in a present lifetime to resolve and heal from a situation perhaps initiated in a previous lifetime. When we come to these moments of resolution or confrontation, some of us do realize or feel it in our gut that we are healing or bringing closure to some past life event. On the other hand, some of us go through the process knowing within as soul but unaware without (in the mind) that we are balancing a past life situation. The consciousness of the individual at the time remains the determinant factor.
Life is in a continuous flow and process. While some of us are resolving our past conflicts and willing to move on by forgiving those who hurt us, some of us are creating situations we maybe required to balance or settle in the future, perhaps when we have long forgotten. Those who choose to ask for millions of dollars for “damages” and compensation for actions which could have been forgiven, could be setting themselves up for future moments where they will be called upon to pay in their own coin, or they may simply be balancing some equation set off in a past life situation. It could go either way. It is common for man to forget when he planted the “cause” of the situation he presently faces. The tendency is for man to cry out at life and blame anyone around him for his misery. Yet, the truth is; life never forgets.
We have the choice to fill the remembrance of our past with pleasant memories or saturate them with bitterness and rancor. One would expect that if we choose the later, we should not be surprised if the effects of such ills subsequently haunt us. But of course, because such bitterness and rancor come around to manifest in our lives, in the disguise of present day unfortunate incidents after we have long forgotten them, we commonly blame life as being unfair.
Some memories may never be forgotten, but once there is true forgiveness, the past may only be remembered as a guide towards building a better future and not as a means towards influencing or dictating the present. The man who allows the past to completely dictate his present may not have truly forgiven. This may seem a little subtle or complex but the key in the above statement lies in the words “guide” and “dictate.”
I am learning to let my past serve ONLY as a GUIDE while letting my present DICTATE my future, and to God I pray to grant me the wisdom to know the difference and the ability to live this test of true forgiveness.
Mbamara, February, 2005
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oliver Mbamara is an Administrative Law
Judge with the State of New York. He is also a filmmaker and a Published
Poet and playwright. For more on Oliver, please visit
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