CNN, Jacksonville, FL – On November 23, 2012, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Jordan Russell Davis, a 17-year-old African American high school student, was shot and killed by Michael David Dunn, a 45-year-old white man. The incident began when Dunn asked Davis and his companions to turn down the loud music that was being played in the vehicle in which Davis was a passenger.
After the jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict on a charge of first-degree murder, the judge declared a mistrial on that count. Dunn was convicted, however, on three counts of attempted second-degree murder. Dunn’s retrial for first-degree murder began last month and wrapped up on October 1. He was found guilty and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
After the verdict, Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath, left many people in awe with her grace and capacity to forgive:
I am praying for him [Dunn] and my church is praying for him. I forgave him a long time ago. I had to. It’s not just about Jordan. And I would not stand and wait for him to apologize. I don’t need his apology. I had forgiven him pretty much in the first 30 days. I just knew that was what I was supposed to do.
I was walking past St. Patrick’s Cathedral with my friend Lisa and I said, “Lisa, I have to go in there.” And I went in and I was just sobbing for two hours. And the Lord helped me forgive [Dunn] right there. In those two hours. I came out and felt like, “Okay, I am done.”
McBath is now the spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization that works with legislators, companies, and educational institutions to establish gun reforms.
Read the full story: “Michael Dunn found guilty of 1st-degree murder in loud-music trial” and “Forgiven to Forgive.”
Last week, I was on an airplane to New York City. At one point, I started to flip through the airline magazine and this is what I found: page after page was filled with self-indulgences of every kind imaginable. There were waterfalls and fancy restaurants and fine chocolates and the newest fashions. Not once was there a message of self-sacrifice or service to others. I guess such self-sacrifice is not profitable.
The message of self-indulgence stayed with me. If we are bombarded with constant messages of pleasure, will we become a society that exalts this to a norm, in which pleasure-seeking becomes an accepted way of life? If so, we may stop examining the assumption that a pleasure-seeking life is one that is not worth living, if our goal is genuine happiness. When we stop such an examination and give in to pleasure all the time, we may find life to be rather meaningless. After all, what does one do when all the chocolates are gone or the trip to the hidden chalet is over and the new fashion is, well, not so fashionable any more?
Forgiveness as self-sacrificial service to others is a message diametrically opposed to the messages in that airline magazine. OK, so I am fuming at her injustice…..pass the bon-bons. OK, so I am enraged with his firing me……let’s go on a trip. Pleasure-as-diversion can hide the pain in need of cleansing. Pleasure-as-self-help may weaken the will to fight for mercy and forgiveness. One’s energy to be in service to others may weaken.
Hard work and pleasure-seeking surely can be in balance in a full life. The magazine did not give such a balanced message. That made me worry……for forgiveness…..for strong wills to give of ourselves even when it is not pleasurable to do so. May we never over-indulge in pleasure to the point of losing our way with forgiveness, which, in the long run, may produce much more happiness than one more chocolate with an orange center.
Forgiveness is a moral virtue as is (for example) justice, patience, and kindness. A moral virtue starts within a person as goodness and then flows out to others for their good. In the case of forgiveness, an unjustly treated person has mercy on someone who acted badly toward the forgiver. One can offer that mercy without trusting a person if he or she continues to behave badly. Trust must be earned. Forgiveness can be given unconditionally as compassion, mercy, and even love no matter how the other behaves. At the same time, one who forgives does not toss the quest for justice aside. One can forgive and seek justice.
“Teaching the art and power of forgiveness to children may be both the best and the fastest way to positively change our world. I believe the Belfast experiment should be expanded to first grade classes in every elementary school in the world. The results speak for themselves, as violent crime in Belfast has fallen dramatically in the past ten years.
“Forgiveness has the potential to transform our communities that have not known peace for decades and reshape our world.”
Patrick Wells, successful businessman turned film producer, talking about Dr. Enright’s Forgiveness Education work in Belfast schools over the past 10 years.
Read the full article: “Embracing Forgiveness Education to Reshape Our World” from rsn – reader supported news.