Victim’s Mother Forgives Oscar Pistorius

Christian Today, London, England – The trial of Oscar Pistorius, a world-class Paralympian blade runner and the first ever double-amputee to participate in the Olympic Games, is causing a world-wide media frenzy. The South African athlete is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius claims hePistorius - Time Mag shot her by accident, mistaking her for an intruder.  The prosecution says he is a hotheaded killer who murdered his girlfriend in a moment of anger.

Amidst all the controversy, the victim’s mother, June Steenkamp, has stunned the world by saying she has forgiven Reeva’s killer.

“I’m not a person who hates another person. One has to forgive, otherwise I will sit with all that anger,” Steenkamp said in an interview with ITV. “One has to forgive, but we’ll never forget.”

During a similar interview on the Today show, Steenkamp said that Pistorius “made a mistake – an enormous mistake – and I’ve lost the most precious thing in my life – my beautiful daughter. But I can still forgive. I can forgive.”

In forgiving Pistorius, June is saying she will not let her anger consume her, and she will not keep it from stopping the process of reconciliation. She is choosing to find life in the midst of such intense grief and pain. Christian Today reporter Carey Lodge.

Read the full story: “June Steenkamp’s readiness to forgive offers a challenge to Christians everywhere.”

Do you think it is harder to forgive a person for one really bad offense or to forgive someone who constantly is doing small things to demean and does so almost every day?

The answer will vary by person and by how gravely serious the one offense is. Many people tell me that they struggle with forgiving those who hurt them on a regular basis. There are two reasons for this: 1) the 20th offense is harder than the first because there is a cumulative effect. The resentments get stronger as the problems persist; and 2) the person sometimes feels trapped, as if the problem will never end. This is why it is so important not only to forgive but also to seek fairness from the other. Living in harmony can occur when the one with a consistent pattern of unfairness comes to see this as unfair and is willing to change. Forgiving and correcting work well together as a team.

Does Forgiveness Make Sense without the Concept of Free Will?

We are all connected and so one person’s actions are not necessarily independent from others’ actions.  Is this true?  Some Eastern philosophies say this.  Some Western psychologies say this, too.  For example, family systems theory surmises that a misbehaving child likely is being influenced by pressures within the family generated by others’ behavior both inside and outside that family.  Psychodynamic theories in psychology say that an adult’s actions can have causes going back to how he or she was treated as a child.

Given all of the interrelated ideas above about our being interrelated in our actions, we can then make at least two moves in explaining people’s behavior: 1) no one can truly help certain actions because of others’ influences over us or 2) we all have free will and choose to act rightly or wrongly even if others’ make it hard to be good.

If we take the first turn on our journey of understanding persons, then we weaken such ideas as “right and wrong,” “justice,” and “forgiveness.”  After all, how can we say that one person acted wrongly? if we are all so interconnected, then this personFree Will is not acting with any kind of genuine volition.  In a certain way, his misbehavior can implicate his father, who can implicate his mother, who can implicate……..On it goes until we all share the blame which weakens the case against the original person and his actions under consideration.

If we take the second turn on our journey of understanding persons,  then we strengthen such ideas as  “right and wrong,” “justice,” and “forgiveness.”  After all, the person, even though pressed in on all sides by others, has choices.  One need not, for example, hit another person because of frustration. One’s mother has not so abused this person that she was left with one and only one option.  Yes, the mother’s misbehavior (whatever it was) may make it difficult for the daughter to control her temper, but control it to a degree she can.

Free will.  Independent choices.  Break the laws of morality (you will not take the life of an innocent person, for example), and you do wrong.  If the wrong is done to me, I can forgive.  If the other does not have free will, then an apparent wrong is just that—-apparent.  Do I then forgive a person for a wrong?  The conclusion is no longer clear.  We will have to re-define forgiveness in this case to keep the word.  Forgiveness becomes a kind of acceptance of all along with their actions, no matter how wrong they might appear to be.  We still retain such words as “compassion” and “understanding,” but the word forgiveness itself begins to fade.

Robert

“If You’ve Been Forgiven, Then You Need to Extend That Forgiveness”

Today – News, New York City – How do you react when you learn that your 30-year-old wife and her unborn child have been killed in a two-car crash? That the driver of the other car had fallen asleep at the wheel? That you are now a widower with a 19-month-old baby daughter? If you’re Erik Fitzgerald, you forgive.

“You forgive as you’ve been forgiven,” said Fitzgerald, referencing a Bible verse. “It wasn’t an option. If you’ve been forgiven, then you need to extend that forgiveness.”

Heart in SkyFitzgerald, a full-time pastor, has not only forgiven but his forgiveness has created a friendship now six years strong with the driver of that other car–Matt Swatzell. The men stay connected by meeting at least once every two weeks, attending church together and eating meals at the Waffle House and other restaurants–just the two of them.

Swatzell, who lives in Dacula, GA, was driving home from a 24-hour shift as a firefighter and EMS and had only 30 minutes of sleep on the night of the Oct. 2, 2006 crash. He was less than four miles from his home when he nodded off and crashed into the car being driven by June Fitzgerald.

“We recognized that when we first started meeting it was unusual. We knew it was God,” said Fitzgerald, now 38. Their friendship was captured in a video produced by NewSpring Church that was shot in 2011, but is going viral again online, collecting hundreds of thousands of views a day.

Read the full story: “Widower forges friendship with man in crash that killed wife, unborn baby.”

Just Checking in Regarding Your Unfolding Love Story

In January of this year, we posted a reflection here in which we encouraged you to grow in love as your legacy of 2014.

The challenge was this: Give love away as your legacy of 2014.

One way to start is by looking backward at one incident of 2013. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a Heartcaring colleague. Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for whom you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?

It is now about two months later. Can you list some specific, concrete ways in which you have chosen love over indifference? Love over annoyance? If so, what are those specifics and how are they loving? We ask because 2014 will be 25% over at the end of March. Have you engaged in 25% of all the loving responses that you will leave in this world this year?

Tempus fugit. If you have not yet deliberately left love in the world this year, there is time…..and the clock is ticking.

Robert

Forgiveness Protects the Victim from Further Pain

Communities Digital News (CDN), Los Altos, CA – Matthew Boger was just a teenager when he found himself living on the streets of West Hollywood in 1980 after having been thrown out of his home for being gay. Because of his sexual orientation, he was brutally beaten one night by a group of neo-Nazi skinheads, including Tim Zaal, who had attached razor blades to his boots prior to kicking Boger in the face and leaving him for dead.

It was shocking that Boger miraculously survived, but even more shocking is what occurred 28 years later when the two happened to meet again by chance in, of all  places, the Museum of Tolerance in downtown Los Angeles. What followed is an unimaginable journey of forgiveness and reconciliation, an improbable collaboration, and a friendship that remains to this day. Anger vs Forgiveness

Their unusual but heartwarming story has now been told in the movie “Facing Fear” which has been nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Documentary Short Subject.”

“The words [he said] and what I saw were far more painful throughout my life than the boots and the blades,” says Boger. “I knew the only way I was going to get past it was to forgive him.”

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I could forgive somebody the way he’s been able to forgive me,” Zaal says in the movie.

As the film demonstrates, forgiveness is one of the best tools we have to protect ourselves from further pain, mentally and physically. And as Boger and Zaal’s remarkable example illustrates, the capacity to forgive is not just a nice add-on but can be and should be an indispensable element of our personal and societal well-being. It is also an innate, if latent, quality of thought that can be taught and nurtured.

Read the full story: “Oscar hopeful ‘Facing Fear’ turns spotlight on power of forgiveness.”