Charleston: Forgiveness versus Retaliation



In this blog, we’ve always been reluctant to dip our toes into the murky pools occupied by the issues of race, guns and politics, but after the events of these last few days in Charleston, we feel compelled to make an exception. Since we have a global audience, we want to make sure everyone knows what we are talking about. On Wednesday evening, while they attended Bible study in the sanctum of their church, nine innocent black lives were taken by a hate-filled 21 year old who was anxious to start a race war.

We are willing to break our rule of staying out of these pools because we’ve witnessed the most amazing lesson in accountability in the reaction of the victims’ family members. If in a similar situation, most of us would have been blinded by anger if one of our family members had been gunned down by this hate-crazed kid; unable to think straight, and desperate for revenge. But what did we hear from the families? We heard forgiveness and an amazing generosity of spirit from the families concerned, and an acceptance of the need to be accountable not to respond to hate with hate, but instead to forgive and not add fuel to the fire of hatred and retribution. These families have shown great leadership and provided a wonderful example to us all in how to be accountable under the most difficult of circumstances.

These gun-related, mass killings if not sad enough are followed by the inadequate response by our political leaders and those that lobby for guns.  The gun lobby leads with “guns don’t kill people, people do”.  Our political leaders seem to use it as an opportunity to get publicity by spouting platitudes, but mostly they do nothing to change the course.  It seems they value re-election as a priority over doing the right thing for our people, our country.

When will our politicians realize that they are not being accountable to the very constituents they were elected to represent. We wish we could put these families in charge of running the country. At least they’d inspire us with love and generosity.

To us, if these families can stand up and show accountable leadership in the face of such hate, can’t we at least follow their lead?