Violent Rape, Terrorist Attack, and Forgiveness

The contrast of these two stories begs the question, why does forgiveness seem to be more possible to do for some and not for others?

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    I found the contrast between these two stories instructive, as it relates to forgiveness.
    [In my children’s book, Little Ip and The Land of Contrasts, I talk about the beauty of forgiveness]

    Story 1

    Published May 2, 2010, Kym Klass

    THE EXTRA MILE: Confronting attacker in court provides empowerment, closure

    Kym relates her feelings about facing in court, the man who attacked and raped her. She carried the fear from this experience for over 18 years, and it took an immense amount of strength to bring herself into the courtroom to confront him and make a statement.

    “Forgiveness doesn’t forget fear.” Kym says. “Sometimes that fear is immense enough to make a person feel broken. I don’t sit here and forgive and forget. I’m here to tell you it is hard to imagine feeling more afraid than I do right now.”

    “I had a mix of emotions that morning” Kym relates. “…from feeling safe running with him in the same city (albeit behind bars), to his image from the courtroom pounding in my head. From his apology to me from the witness stand in court to his voice breaking when he said he had no idea he alone could cause that fear in me.
    From the way he looked at me, to how he wouldn’t look at me when I read my statement.
    I bought into none of it.”

    “That next morning, I felt an empowerment I haven’t felt — ever — over this. If I’ve ever wanted to make a difference, my time in court might have been it. If I can keep him off the streets to keep other female runners safe, then I can only pray I’ve done that.”

    My heart goes out to Kym. This has to have been a terrible burden to bear for so long.

    Story 2

    Published May 1, 2010

    As Mumbai Trial Finishes, Wife and Mother Still Forgives.

    Kia Scherr  of Nelson County in Central Virginia hopes that she will get to meet face-to-face with the Pakistani national charged in the November 2008 Islamic terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed her husband and daughter.

    “It was a horrible experience to go through and, in some ways, I died a little bit, too,” Kia Scherr said. “But it made me look at myself and how I wanted to respond, who I really am and what I wanted to be. I don’t want revenge. I’d rather retaliate with love, kindness and forgiveness with the same intensity of the terrorists, but in the opposite extreme.”

    When it was over, the father and daughter were found under a cafeteria table, shot dead.

    With a yearlong trial ended and the court on the verge of a verdict, Scherr says she hopes to meet with Kasab.

    “I would like to talk with him, show him forgiveness and compassion, something other than the violence he has known, as a response,” Scherr said. “He was filmed showing remorse for his actions and when he saw his colleagues in the morgue. He said he’d been lied to. If only we could find a way to make this young man embrace life instead of death, to speak out against the brainwashing he received and reveal the truth, perhaps we could save more lives.”

    Question:

    In making this comparison I mean no disrespect in any way to Kym. She has suffered greatly and deserves no judgment from me or anyone else for her feelings or actions. At the same time, one may just as easily judge Scherr for trying to hinder proper justice to a terrorist killer.

    The contrast of these two stories begs the question, why does forgiveness seem to be more possible to do for some and not for others? Was carrying an emotional burden for over a decade as much of a choice for Kym as forgiving a terrorist is for Scherr?

    Please share your comments below. God bless those of us who may find ourselves on either end the question.

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