Posted by: Susan Strouse | July 28, 2012

Forgiving Gun Violence?

“Aurora victim released from hospital; says he forgives shooter”

That headline added another ingredient to  the stew of my emotions since the dreadful shooting in the Colorado movie theater on July 20.

First into the pot, I have to admit, was cynicism. Although maybe that’s not an emotion; the dictionary  defines it as “an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity; pessimism.”   However you define it, I had it.  Here we go again. The predictable barrage of cries for gun control, with the predictable denials of culpability from the gun lobby.  All of which would quiet down – until the next time.

Then came anger. I heard words of outrage and compassion from the politicians, but no appeals for real debate about gun violence.  Next: helplessness: what can I do besides rant and rave and preach to the choir?  Followed by guilt: how can I sit back and do nothing?

And then Pierce O’Farrill forgave the shooter.

I have no doubt that he’s sincere, that his faith compels him to do this. I do, however, wonder at what seems like quickness to forgive. I’m reminded of another terrible tragedy, the shooting deaths of 10 girls in a one-room Amish school in 2006. That community was also quick to pronounce their forgiveness of the man who had murdered their children. But in this case, there was also recognition that forgiveness is not offered lightly, that it doesn’t stop the grieving and questioning and hard work of living into that gift of grace.

But I’m not judging Pierce O’Farrill.  In fact, I agree with him that this shooter is a ‘lost soul,’ for whatever reason that may be.  I, too, can feel compassion even for those who commit horrendous crimes.  My faith compels me to see each and every human being as a precious child of God – no matter how many layers of sickness and sin have covered that over.

What I am having a hard time forgiving is our national sin.  Our refusal to enter into an authentic exploration of the issue of gun violence.  No rhetoric, real debate.  Will it be difficult?  Of course.  It will need to be facilitated by those skilled in polarity management.  Included in the agenda will have to be a serious look at the connections between lack of care for the mentally ill and incidents like these.

If we cannot bring ourselves to do this, I am afraid that I can’t forgive.  Of course, I have to include myself in this indictment. I have to find ways to contribute to the change I want to see.  Michael Moore, in his Huffington Post blog, said, “All we’re lacking here, my friends, is the courage and the resolve. I’m in if you are.”

OK, Michael, I’m in.  I have to have hope. In the midst of the cynicism, anger, helplessness, and guilt – I am compelled to have hope.  But  forgiveness – not just yet.


Responses

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  3. I thought it was a little quick also.

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  5. The man who walked over to his neighbor’s home wasn’t going over to make some grand gesture. He was making a gesture to God that he would forgive. He hadn’t forgiven and forgotten already. But by making that statement, he was opening the door to forgiveness.

  6. There is another one like Pierce O’Farrill: Fred H. Wilson. Fred (“never” Frederick) forgave the gunman from Omaha. Wilson was a former school teacher and no record of him exists of marrying.

  7. [The Framers were] unlikely then to have thought of a right to keep loaded handguns in homes to confront intruders in urban settings as central. And the subsequent development of modern urban police departments, by diminishing the need to keep loaded guns nearby in case of intruders, would have moved any such right even further away from the heart of the amendment’s more basic protective ends.

  8. There is another one like Pierce O’Farrill: Emmy Award winner, Amardeep Singh Kaleka. Kaleka forgave the gunman and he said, Pura Ho Gaya (his work is complete). Amardeep is the son of a hero and a legend, Satwant Singh Kaleka! Currently, there is one victim in the hospital in a coma, Punjab Singh and he was born four days before India declared independence from the United Kingdom.

  9. Do not forget the five heroes of Oak Creek, Wisconsin!
    They are Satwant Singh Kaleka, Abhay Singh, Amanat Singh, Lt. Brian James Murphy, and Officer Savan Nick “Sam” Lenda!

  10. Love won. Love saved countless lives that day on August 5, 2012. Please do not forget the heroes on that day: Satwant Singh Kaleka, Lt. Brian James Murphy (Semper Fi, Officer Murphy!), Abhay Singh (11 year old body), Amanat Singh (9 year old girl), and Officer Savan Nick “Sam” Lenda (the namesake of the grandfather from Bosnia!)! Fifty to 100 years from now, one of the last survivors would have said, “I survived the Sikh Temple shooting and my life was saved by a then 9 and 11 year old children, cops, and President of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin!” The hole in the temple will remain forever. Remember, “WE ARE ONE!” There is only one race, human. Best of all, Gurmit Singh Kaleka and Gurjeet Singh Kaleka forgave the gunman and Gurmit and Gurjeet’s uncle is a hero and a legend!


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