Can you forgive the murderer of a loved one?

Is it appropriate (or possible) to forgive the murderer of a loved one? My second video on this theme, refuting common Christian ideals, prompted by the criticisms of YouTube user Matthew4Nineteen.

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12 thoughts on “Can you forgive the murderer of a loved one?

  1. Funny I just was listening to a Radio Ulster programme, Sunday Sequence. Interesting discussion with a woman whose father was killed by an IRA bomb:

    A link to the podcast is here:

    [audio src="http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/northernireland/ethics/ethics_20130414-1103a.mp3" /]

    A link to the work she is currently undertaking here:

    http://www.buildingbridgesforpeace.org/who_we_are.html

    The natural reaction is to hate and want some retribution for the act, I agree. What does it profit to seek forgiveness and reconciliation – I think as you do a peaceful society is obviously the best. Maybe ultimately these folks do harbor some sort of resentment and hate in her heart, but the desire to create a community of peace is surely a high ideal?

  2. Darryl says:

    Civilisation is really the triumph of collaboration over disorder. So, yes, I support peace as a high ideal. But there is always a wider adversity to life, within which structures of harmony exist. That’s the way of all nature, from microbes to supernovas.

    That little anecdote is really the condensation of a vast topic that I’ve discussed from time to time in other videos. Once you see this principle, it changes your whole perspective on everything.

  3. I was just watching the most recent video on here, and wondered about things in terms of how others live out their lives. You mentioned that hate and retribution were perfectly natural reactions to acts of violence perpetrated on you or loved ones by others – I think that’s fair.

    However, with reference to the above links, would you say that what Jo Berry experienced/believed defies conventional expIaination? Perhaps what she is doing is legit for her, but not necessarily wanting everyone to come to her mindset.

    In that sense maybe it’s good that there are those who are seeking to reconcile and transform communities and dare I say find wonder in a transformed and regenerated community.

  4. Darryl says:

    This stood out for me from Jo Berry’s blog:

    “I have dedicated my life to helping create a world where everyone wins, where the qualities of empathy and understanding take the place of judging and blaming, for it in only when we honour everyone that we will create a world which is really peaceful.”

    All I could think was, “If everyone wins, then no one wins.” I really don’t believe in this kind of equality. Nature, by definition, is a competition. Competition is the very driving force of evolution. And conflict is a form of competition. This woman has a deeply unrealistic view of human nature. So it’s not surprising to me that she has a deeply unrealistic view about forgiveness. It’s hard to see whether she’s being dishonest with herself or not, because such things are very subtle.

    But let me digress …

    I really don’t understand this forgiveness-on-principle thing. When one party forgives the other, but the other doesn’t care, nothing is achieved, except perhaps the offended party being about to feel superior. Reconcilation is only possible when both parties wish to be reconciled – and if they do, then there’s nothing to stop mutual forgiveness. It happens automatically. I’ve been there a few times in life.

    Take my relationship with the Barrs and Earl. I would be happy to be reconciled with them, but they don’t want it. They’re all wrapped up in their bigotry (and yes, that’s EXACTLY what it is): “Darryl, your friendship is unacceptable to us because you don’t believe what we believe. You are therefore judged unworthy of our company. Begone.” What does it matter whether I forgive them, or I don’t? I’m not interested in pinning a goodguy badge on myself. And if I have anger issues about the situation (which clearly I do), those are better expressed than suppressed.

    See the way it causes me more distress desiring reconciliation than it does to simply say “Screw ’em!” Maybe I’m too forgiving for my own good. 🙂

  5. It must be me and my social justice mindset that is clouding my judgement 😛

    Wish I could leave a picture here for you that’s illustrative of everyone winning

  6. Oh ho I can – welcome to 21st Century

    http://nornironimmigrant.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/justice-jpg/

    see there’s no reason for people to lose with a little bit of compassion, fairness, and understanding

  7. Darryl says:

    Referring to your picture: ah, but toss those three individuals into a situation where there are only two blocks. Life is more like that. Collaboration occurs when there are sufficient resources. In the absence of that, life becomes competition.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever read the chapter “Survival Ethics” in my book, but I cover some interesting ground on this theme. We are capable of a wide spectrum of behaviour, from brutal killing for survival, to altruistic love for others. I believe the path we choose is largely determined by circumstance.

  8. Better yet, someone may actually come along and buy a ticket for them all to go into the stadium 🙂

    Actually, I was standing in line to buy a ticket to go into a baseball match and some random guy came up to me and gave me a ticket. I went into the grounds and watched the game. I have no idea who the guy was or why he did it and I never saw him after he gave me the ticket.

    Even though brutal killing for survival is one aspect of nature, I still appreciate a world where random acts of selfless kindness take place.

  9. On second thoughts, maybe he had stolen them and if he could find some helpless punter to pass one on to, then he would be less likely to be caught :0

  10. Darryl says:

    “Even though brutal killing for survival is one aspect of nature, I still appreciate a world where random acts of selfless kindness take place.”

    So do I. The trick is to come to an understanding of how these two aspects of life are integrated, not just in the world at large, but within your own nature. Being a Christian, I think you probably account for it with the idea of the “sinful nature” – the flesh as a thing to be overcome. I’ve developed quite a different model of what’s going on with us, and with the wider universe.

  11. Through certain people I’ve been reading and listening to lately, I’m actually becoming less convinced of a sinful nature and for that matter some sort of arch-evil devil/satan or hell. But for all it flaws, I still think the place that enables me to be more compassionate, selfless, and just is the church.

    There’s a quote by CS Lewis that I’ve found quite pertinent lately

    “”That’s what we all find when we reach this country. We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke. There’s no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.”

    A good laugh-fest about how wrong everyone was about everything 😀

  12. Darryl says:

    These are startling admissions to hear from you – in comparison to our old Calvinist days. I think Norman Barr would be almost as disappointed in you as he is in me. 🙂

    But I’m glad to hear you’ve moved away from that literalist perspective on scripture. Just a few more steps and you’ll be on the Dark Side proper. 😉

    You know, I do miss the old days – particularly the early years at KEC and my time at Tartaraghan Presbyterian. I miss being a part of a community of people. Being apostate certainly has its social drawbacks. 🙂

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