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Saturday, 14 June 2014

REFUSING TO FORGIVE

@sisonkemsimang recently wrote a powerful article at http://t.co/Pv5lfbi2Nl about #LimphoHani refusing to forgive #Clive-DerbyLewis for the assassination of her husband, the late, great #ChrisHani.  In it she argues that Limpho Hani should be entitled to rage at Derby-Lewis, not forgive him and carry on insisting that he not be given parole.

I agree with her at this level.  It is Limpho Hani's prerogative to feel rage and hold resentment.  Anyone can choose to rage, be resentful and bitter.  As far as she sees it, she has good reason to feel angry about the death of her husband and to want his killer to suffer as much as she has suffered.

However, we need to be careful not to confuse forgiveness with condonation.  No right thinking person is expected or required to condone an act of inherent evil.  In fact, condonation would simply give legitimacy to the criminality of Derby-Lewis' actions.  It would make it right, when murder can never be right, no exceptions.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, is all about the person who is holding onto her rage and resentment towards the wrong-doer.  It is not about the wrong-doer.  Rather, forgiveness is about no longer holding ill-will towards the wrong-doer.  Nelson Mandela can never be said to have condoned apartheid or his incarceration.  However, in order for him to move on it was necessary to forgive - to let go of his ill-will towards his jailers and oppressors, failing which they still had a hold on him.

Clive Derby-Lewis doesn't necessarily know or care about Limpho Hani's rage and resentment towards him.  He has problems of his own - ill health and attacks by other prisoners.  Limpho Hani's rage, resentment and bitterness is harming no one but herself.  Like a cancer, resentment eats away at a person's fabric and soul.  If you've been around someone stuck in resentment for years you will know that they aren't much fun to be around.  The person is so bent on getting even with the wrong-doer that she almost becomes the person she so despises: cold, calculating, angry, hate-filled, stopping at nothing to cause misery to the wrong-doer and self-righteous into the bargain.

Now I don't know Mrs Hani, and I might have the picture quite wrong.  However I do know resentment when I see and hear about it and Mrs Hani seems to fit the bill.  What concerns me is that people who are resentful for long periods of time can bring on physical illness.  Anger can induce heart disease.  The cancer of resentment can turn into the real thing.  The mind is immensely powerful and really does those things to people who are running on high emotion.

I am not asking Limpho Hani to condone what Derby-Lewis did.  Forgiveness is not about her making his actions right.  However, what I truly wish for her is that she can find a way to choose to let go of her ill-will towards him, to let go of the bitterness, let go the rage and allow our justice system to run its course, rather than demand it should run her course.  

That is what will truly set her free, because as long as she keeps on resenting Clive Derby-Lewis, he is the one who has the power over her.

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