Friday, 11 January 2013

How Far Can You Go To Forgive Someone ?

Forgiveness, as many great men have said, is the greatest joy of life.

My question is how far can ordinary people, like me and you, go to forgive someone?

 Can we ever forgive in true earnest?

Quite recently, I came across a news item in The New York Times, about this kind of forgiveness. It was a work of fact, not fiction.

I was shocked, amazed and stunned by the story and I found questioning myself, whether any person, normal everyday people like you and me, was actually capable of this kind of forgiveness?

I have added the link below, in case any of you want to go through the whole story.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/magazine/can-forgiveness-play-a-role-in-criminal-justice.html

I'll just narrate the brief outlines here :

Conor McBride, a 19 year old man, murdered in a fit of rage, his girlfriend and fiance of three years, Ann Margaret Grosmaire, on 28th March, 2010, in Tallahessee, Florida.

They had been having the usual problems, which most committed couples face and one fateful afternoon, a bitter quarrel ensured, which resulted in the most unfortunate killing of young Ms. Grosmaire.

Mind you, both the individuals, involved had sound economic background, no known record of criminal or substance abuse, no history of family discord, nothing... they were two people, ordinary, everyday couple, who were very much in love, and wanted to tie nuptial knots.

The man, after killing his girlfriend, walked up to the nearest police station and surrendered himself.

The stunning part of the story comes now.

As legal procedures began, Grosmaire's parents, who were devout Christians, felt their daughter, asking them to forgive Conor.

They were so taken up with this incident, that they resorted to a legal procedure known as "restorative justice", (which is rarely used in USA, and if used is limited to minor property disputes) to lessen the harshness of the sentence to be delivered to Conor.

Typically, in a Restorative Judicial procedure, a facilitator meets separately, both the victim and the accused and if both parties are willing to meet each other, face to face, without animosity, and the offender is willing and able to complete restitution, then the case shifts out of the adversarial legal system and into a parallel restorative-justice process.

All parties, the offender, victim, facilitator, and law enforcement, come together in a forum, sometimes called a Restorative-Community Conference. Each person speaks one at a time, and without interruption, about the crime and its effects, and the participants come into a consensus about how to repair the harm done.

This case was the first instance where Restorative Justice had been used in a criminal case of this magnitude in the United States.

Conor's crime in fact was rated first degree murder, where the most common sentence, under Florida Law,  would have been a mandatory life sentence and probably death.

Instead, because of Ann's parent's insistence on fulfilling the last wishes of Ann, Conor was given 20 years prison sentence plus 10 years probation.

After I read the entire story, mind you, not even an iota of it is fiction, I was left stunned.

This "senseless" act of forgiveness (I call it senseless, for a lack of a better word to define it), forced me to ask myself, if I was in the Grosmaires' shoes, would I have the strength in me, to forgive Conor?

I ask you, dear readers, if any of you were in such a situation, would you have done what the Grosmaires did for Conor, the man, who killed their 19 year old daughter, in a fit of rage?

I do not think, I have ever read or heard, such an act of forgiveness, ever, in my 29 years of existence, yet there are two people, in this very world that we stay in, who had the courage and the strength, to forgive the most ghastly act of murder.

After one year, of the sentence given to Conor, the Grosmaires reported, that, they felt really guilt free, happy and at utmost peace... It was as if Ann thanked them everyday for their courage and conviction, for listening to their heart.