I have been mulling over some concepts and trying to figure out how (or if) to reconcile them. Please forgive me for the length of this thread - I am
trying to put together several thoughts I have and it will take me a little while to make it all come together.
Part 1 - Background History:
Some of you may have seen, through my posts, that when I was in Jr High, my Grandma was brutally murdered by her next door neighbor. She had
occasionally paid him to do “handyman” tasks, like cleaning the leaves out of the storm gutters on her roof, so she knew him, and when he came
over and asked to use the phone one day, because his was down, she let him in without hesitation.
Grandma asked after his family, and this threw him into a rage, and he strangled her and then slit her throat. There are several additional gory
details I won’t go into, suffice it to say he didn’t just leave her alone after that, but brutalized her body and desecrated her in multiple ways.
My youngest Aunt was temporarily home, and out of the house on an errand, or perhaps she came home the next day, I can’t recall - anyway, she found
my Grandma, her Mother, dead on the floor of her childhood room.
As you can imagine, my family was in shock and also in fear for some time. The police warned my parents to keep the doors locked and be vigilant, as
the murderer had, after killing Grandma, stolen her purse and car, and they believed he had letters from us in her purse, bearing our address. He
crossed state lines, but they eventually caught up to him and captured him. He was brought back, tried, found guilty, and set to be executed.
Several years of appeals, such as (this one - court document)
Ultimately, Grandma’s murderer was executed. My family was extremely relieved, and it brought us peace, to finally know, for sure, that he could
NEVER EVER cause anybody such fear, pain and suffering again.
Part 2 - Forgiveness - WHAT???
I hadn’t really thought about the death penalty, prior to this, but from the moment we found out Grandma was killed, I wanted nothing more than for
her murderer to be caught and removed from my frame of existence. I had a constant loop playing in my head of her last moments, as I imagined them,
which had been graphically described in the news, in court, and frankly, between the grown up family members. I could think of nothing but my loving,
adventurous, wonderful Grandma in abject fear for her life, followed by the incredible pain she must have felt, and the ultimate erasure of her life,
by this cruel and violent man. I instantly identified myself as Pro-Death Penalty from this point forward.
However, my Dad, completely dumbfounded me, not all that long after, by stating to friends that he had “forgiven” his Mother’s murderer.
WHAT???? I did not interrupt the grown-ups talking, to ask how this could be. I figured, he’s an adult, I am a kid, and what place do I have to
question him when he, as Grandma’s son, knew her far better and was much closer to her than I could ever be, as her grand-daughter, not matter how
much I loved her. I have always felt that was private and I shouldn’t ask, but I have always questioned HOW could he possibly forgive Grandma’s
murderer and WHY would that be desirable?
Part 3 - Redemption - Quantifying Forgive-ability
I recently heard an interview with a journalist who has written a book called
Life-After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption
which was about
several murderers who paid their debt to society and actually made parole and have been released. Amazingly, I found myself feeling somewhat
sympathetic to their situations. The rules are incredibly stringent for them to achieve parole. They are often turned down on technicality after
As it turns out, of these examples of people who are considered for parole after murder, not one of them had come anywhere close to the brutality of
my Grandma’s murder. These were people who, for example, had tried to rob a convenience store and been confronted, and ended up shooting the store
owner. Somehow such situations seemed “less” unforgivable to me than the situation when my Grandma was murdered.
But wait a minute!!!!!!! How would that murder possibly be any more acceptable to the store owner’s family than my Grandma’s murder was to my
family???? What am I thinking???? Is there now a scale for weighing how wrong a murder is?????? This would imply that some murders are somehow more
forgivable than others - NO WAY - I can’t reconcile that with my world view at all. How can it be that any such nuances could even be worthy of
consideration, when the end result either way was death for an innocent person?
And yet, it seems I can feel some empathy and maybe I do have some concept of the possibility for “second chances”, since I found myself listening
to the interview and feeling some empathy for the parolees.
I must be making some mental map to what can and can’t be forgiven and also giving some consideration to the desire on the behalf of a wrongdoer to
make amends, presuming of course that the person feels remorse for what they have done. I am certainly no closer to forgiving my Grandma’s murderer
than I was a year ago or ten or twenty years ago. I am just more and more confused.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THAT...
edit on 27-10201210-1212 by gwynnhwyfar because: (no reason given)
edit on 27-10201210-1212 by gwynnhwyfar because:
(no reason given)