Aurora Shooting, Penn State. Can we forgive?

I just ended a two month run blogging on forgiveness.  Then two huge news items came on the scene that relate directly to what I’ve been talking about; the Aurora shooting and the Penn State scandal. I thought I’d share my perspective. I’d love to hear what you think as well.

Forgiveness Aurora Shooting

Victim Forgives Aurora Shooter

Forgiveness for the Aurora Shooting?

About a month ago I talked about forgiving the unforgivable.  I said that anything is forgivable.  Given that, you’d think I’d be quick to say people should forgive the Aurora shooting at the recent viewing of Batman in Colorado. But when I saw a TV report the other night, two days after the shooting, where a victim said he forgave the shooter, it didn’t set well with me.

It’s not that I don’t think forgiveness should be offered. It’s just that it’s too early to talk about forgiveness. The victim in the report was shot but he didn’t die like twelve people did. There are twelve families and groups of friends who are dealing with the traumatic loss of their loved one. For anyone to throw around the idea of forgiveness this soon puts too much pressure on these survivors to conform.

The reporters will now go to everyone and say, “One victim said they have forgiven the shooter. Have you?”  I don’t think that’s fair to these survivors. They are dealing with enough right now. They shouldn’t be asked about forgiveness. If they can forgive, it will take a long time.

Talking about forgiveness this soon trivializes forgiveness. I felt that the victim in the report was just saying what he thought was the right thing to say. It didn’t seem genuine to me. I wasn’t inspired by the story. I felt a little sick about it.  I’m interested what you think.

Forgiveness for Penn State?

Forgiveness for Penn State?

Penn State got handed an incredibly harsh verdict yesterday for their role in the abuse scandal. They removed the statue of Joe Paterno.  I can see that there will be a variety of responses to this.  I understand how it’s not fair to the players to nullify all games.  But…how unfair was it to all the victims of abuse?

Forgiveness, yes. Excusing, no. I agree with harsh sanctions. People have to understand that turning a blind eye to abuse is not okay; in the church, in sports, in the home, wherever it’s found.  It sounds like the blame could not be isolated to just a few guilty parties. There were many who were complicit.  When this happens the institution has to take the blame. It’s sad to see the sanction but the reason for the sanction is sadder.

Question: There is lots of room to disagree on both the Aurora shooting and Penn State. What do you think?  Leave your comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Aurora Shooting, Penn State. Can we forgive?

  1. Rosann Grabowski Slagel

    My past understanding of forgiveness has always felt more like a form of denial. Denial of the hurt, denial of the responsibility, denial of any amends…. I’m still not totally clear on the difference but I do know saying you forgive before the reality has had a chance to settle is denial.
    Rosann

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Yes. Denial. Good word. That’s what I felt was the problem with the shooting victim. To truly forgive you have to have a grasp of the offense. Sitting in his hospital bed I don’t think he had a full grasp of what happened…the horror…the pain. Forgiveness doesn’t breeze past all that. Forgiveness faces the horror, acknowledges it, recognizes the evil of it but chooses to not retaliate or reduce yourself to the level of the offender. Forgiveness takes time.

      Just to be clear…I admire the young man for wanting to forgive. I can’t expect him to get it right, especially when he’s still in shock and a camera is in his face. I just wanted to seize a teachable moment to help us all learn something about forgiveness.

  2. Teresa

    The shooting in Aurora was from my research occultic in origin. Satan will cast into an abyss at the end of the age. Until then he knows his time is short and is working in whatever way he can. Forgiveness on this would be acceptance of the spirtual battle that is in place.

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