the Shape of Forgiveness


Ten years on and we still prefer to wallow in the pain than to move past it.

Bumper stickers and license plates proclaim “We Will Never Forget”, annual media coverage of the memorial services at ground zero keep the memory alive, and the building of a monument to herald our pain to the world keeps the incident fresh.

A Christian Nation would not behave in such a manner. A Christian Nation would, in fact, forgive and forget as instructed in scripture. Yet the most highly “Christian” of our people rabidly support the military adventures in the Middle East and prayed for the day when the evil mastermind behind the event could be brought to pay some retribution for his crime.

Well, he has paid the price. Our leaders, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, have waged a war against this one man and his associates, and it continues still.

The vivid recreation of the Old Testament adage of an eye for an eye, the murder of Osama bin Laden, should have been the salve to bring healing to the wound at last. But the killing continues, the revisiting the pain continues, and the hatred – yes, even throughout this supposedly Christian Nation – continues still.

Is there none who understand what forgiveness is?

Fortunately, there are some who do. The Amish schoolhouse massacre showed us what compassion and forgiveness really look like.

Had the incident been answered by the Federal Government, there would have been investigations, suspicions, fear and trembling, annual marches to the monument set up over the schoolhouse to keep the horror alive.

The Amish, quiet conscientious objectors to all violence, razed the school and turned the area into productive farmland. There is no marker commemorating the tragedy.

Even the wife of the killer was welcomed into the community, knowing she, too, had been a victim of the violence.

How different the Christian response from the American response.

Perhaps, one day, we can learn to forgive. And not just the terrorists who crippled our nation, but our leaders as well who have turned a tragedy into a worldwide bloodbath, in the name of the Prince of Peace.

Who taught us to turn the other cheek.

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