Choosing Peace Through Forgiveness

Oct 10, 2006 by Luann Robinson Hull
Greetings to my dear family and friends.

Most of us are now familiar with the tragedy that occurred in the Amish township of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Sally Kohn recently wrote a thought provoking article (What the Amish are Teaching America) on how the village responded to the violent event, which took the lives of five innocent little girls, leaving others in critical condition. In the piece, Kohn reported that mental health counselors helping families cope were deeply touched by one of the community’s most pressing concerns: How could they help the family of the one, who had perpetrated the unconscionable crimes?

With their genuine desire to choose compassion instead of hatred and revenge, the parish had already begun the process of forgiveness and healing. They wanted to move beyond the violent action that had so betrayed their beloved children and immediately begin coming together for the greater good of everyone involved.

In her article, Kohn pointed out that in many ways we have been conditioned in western culture to react to such horrors with vengeance or “an eye for an eye.” And from such a perspective, the Amish response might appear unfathomable or even sanctimonious. But for this peaceful, secluded group, to act with compassion and forgiveness is completely natural, normal, and authentic. Behaving with kindness and concern for others is integral to their culture, beliefs, and way of being.

All of us are capable of making mistakes, no exceptions. And, to the extent that we identify with these errors instead of the parts of ourselves that are invested in growth, love, compassion, sharing, and so on, we will suffer. The same is true of how we view others and their behaviors toward us or society at large. No matter how despicable or heinous the deed may appear that action does not fully define the person, group, or organization behind it. It is only a part of the whole picture. Maybe the next time we are tempted to go into self-blame, or project our anger onto another, we should ask ourselves, “What’s the bigger picture?”

Sally Kohn’s article inspired me to scan for any remnants of anger towards anything or anyone (including myself), that I may be harboring, using the beautiful example of forgiveness and compassion cited above. In letting go of anger and blame, I am definitely more peaceful and then able to recognize the multitude of ways in which I am blessed and loved.

I am a work in progress. Thanks for joining me on the journey.

YOU are amazing. Radiant joy and blessings be with you.