Friday, June 24, 2011

Saying Sorry

I read a pretty cool article this morning by Chuck Colson, former council to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. You can read the article here. He went to prison for a time, found God, then went on a crusade to help other prisoners find religion.

And now some excerpts. He brings up an interesting point here about how the secularization of society brings about a moral relativity that negates the need for seeking and expressing forgiveness:
The ability to forgive is one of the most powerful forces for good in any society. It can reconcile the most grievous altercations, which are an ever-present reality in a fallen world. Forgiveness brings about shalom — the biblical term for concord and harmony — between people who have the greatest differences imaginable and can transform institutions and even warring nations.

America is rightly known for its forgiving nature. The land of second chances, we like to say. What other nation in history has simultaneously fought major world wars against two mighty military powers — Japan and Germany — eventually conquered its attackers, and then turned right around to rebuild the very countries it fought?

And yet in recent years, Americans have become a deeply cynical and unforgiving people. A 1988 Gallup poll revealed that 50 percent of Americans do not believe that they could forgive others; another revealed that “forgiveness is something virtually all Americans aspire to” (94 percent) but “is not something we frequently offer.” Only 48 percent acknowledged attempting to forgive others. And yet, as Melissa Healy, in the Los Angeles Times article “The Science of Forgiveness” noted a few years ago, a refusal to forgive those who have harmed us can increase the risk of heart attacks and depression.

How and why did we reach this tragic place?

Some saw this sad state of affairs coming. In 1973, psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a popular book titled Whatever Happened to Sin? Good question. What happened is that sin has become the most politically incorrect subject we can possibly raise in polite company, because it involves being judgmental.

But a society that doesn’t take sin seriously has difficulty taking forgiveness seriously: After all, if nobody does anything wrong, there’s nothing to forgive.
[Emphasis mine] I think he makes a really good point there. In a world where morality is relative, the standards for right and wrong become hazy, leaving many things up to question.

Here is an example of forgiveness that he mentions in the article:

For instance, many years ago, a young woman named Dee Dee Washington sat in a car waiting for her boyfriend, a young man who, unbeknownst to Dee Dee, was purchasing drugs. The boyfriend got into an altercation with the drug dealer, whose name was Ron Flowers. Racing from the scene, Ron pulled out a gun and shot Dee Dee as she waited in the car. She died of her wounds, and Flowers was convicted of her murder.

For 14 years, Ron denied killing Dee Dee. But then he became involved in Prison Fellowship’s ministry. In our Inner-Change Freedom Initiative (IFI), offenders are confronted with the harm they have done to their victims and the families of victims.

Ron finally admitted to the murder. He then wrote to Dee Dee’s mother, Anna Washington, expressing deep remorse for his crime. Every year of Ron’s sentence, Mrs. Washington had written to the parole board urging them to deny him parole. However, the week Ron confessed, Mrs. Washington felt an overwhelming conviction that she should meet with the man who killed her daughter.

When the visit was arranged, a repentant Ron told Mrs. Washington how he had come to kill her precious daughter, and he asked to be forgiven. Mrs. Washington took his hands in hers. “I forgive you,” she said.

I attended Ron’s graduation service in the prison. As he was walking toward me to receive his certificate I saw out of the corner of my eye a tall, handsome, African American woman stand up in the crowd and come toward us. She threw her arms around Ron and announced, “I am the mother of the young girl that Ron murdered.” She proceeded to tell the stunned crowd the story, and ended by declaring, “This young man is my adopted son.”

After his release, Mrs. Washington helped Ron Flowers adjust to life back in the community, invited him over for dinner, and even attended his wedding. This beautiful ending to a tragic story could only happen through God’s grace. Only he can bring about such reconciliation and healing.

I think it's in forgiveness where people do things that are extraordinary, seemingly superhuman.

Just thought that was interesting. Have a good weekend, y'all!


Karen said...

That is an amazing story.

Lisa said...

Great story.