In addition to the significance, gravity and implications of the offense done and proven, forgiveness necessarily carries two terminal reference points. These are none other than the forgiver and the forgiven, viz., the person giving the forgiveness and the person receiving the forgiveness. There is nothing complex or profound in this reality—specially so among Christians one of whose noble virtues is to forgive their offenders as a sign of their generosity and benevolence.
As someone highly imaginative and much appreciated world figure said—in response to the old law of “A tooth for a tooth.” plus “An eye for an eye”—if everybody who loses a tooth to someone would extract a tooth from the latter, or everybody whose eye is plucked by another would also pluck the eye of the latter, time would surely come when the people in the world would all be toothless and blind. This imaginative conclusion strongly affirms the known maxim that to err is human, to forgive is divine.
A key and signal Christian doctrine and practice is clearly found in the distinct and eminent prayer “Our Father”—with the plea “Forgive is our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” They key content of this particular supplication is that the persons praying be please forgiven just as the same forgives those who have sinned against him or her. The exchange equation runs this way: as I forgive my offenders, do forgive also my offenses.
In would be good to apply the above simple and plain observations to the grant of “Executive Clemency”—pardon, reprieved, commutation or whatever—by someone to another. Instead of people all clapping and rejoicing for such an apparently impressive gesture of kindness and understanding, not few are first surprised, then disturbed and eventually disgusted with such a demonstration of vain bravado. Instead of the people being reconciled for the good of the country, they are in effect now more deeply divided in terms of praising or condemning the Clemency Act.
The most serious and profound reservation and objection to the issue is this: was the forgiver offended by the forgiven? Is it not true that the forgiver was greatly benefited by the forgiven? The forgiven in fact lost the Presidency while the forgiver picked up the Presidential Office from a golden platter. Who really offended whom? Who then has the privilege of forgiving? Who wherefore needs forgiveness?
Among the many other reasons that makes the Clemency Grant questionable and disturbing is the truth that in the level of a person to person relationship, the insistent thought comes that the forgiver is the one who needs forgiveness. While the one forgiven is proven guilty of specified offenses, he has not in truth offended but instead benefited his forgiver. It is very strange if not downright ridiculous that an offender forgives the offended.
This is big farce behind the big show staged by the pretentious forgiver.
November 2, 2007