I am sure we are all aware of recent events in South Carolina. A sad little boy with a gun murdered 9 people in a church. I was so disgusted by it that I was going to not respond in this blog because I did not want to give any more publicity to this most recent tragedy. Already they seem to be happening with increasing frequency.
However, I was moved by the reaction of the families of the victims. Many of them spoke up at his first hearing to say they forgave him. What a powerful message. In many communities there would have been rioting in the streets, as we have seen too many times lately. However, in Charleston we see a community coming together for support. There is a lesson here for us all.
I imagine that most of us in a similar situation would be angry. That would be our first reaction. I imagine that it was the same for these families. However, they held the ideals of compassion and forgiveness and moved past their anger. I am sure that there are still moments when the anger returns—at least that is how it would be for me. But they keep returning to forgiveness and compassion.
It is a mindfulness practice, really. They direct their attention to forgiveness and let go of their anger—again and again. I think it is similar to “radicle acceptance”, where a person learns to accept the “unacceptable” by releasing the judgmental thoughts that arise. The terrible events happened. Nothing can change that, but life must go on.
I think the most notable quote from this is, “We won’t let the hate win.”
I see this as similar to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They were able to prevent a bloodbath when the Black majority took over the government by acknowledging that the terrible events occurred and giving the victims and/or their families a chance to be heard. They were able to move past the terror and build a society.
On a related issue, I personally think it is terrible to fly the Confederate flag in any capacity. It is a symbol of a horrific time in our history. As the battle flag of a government and society that was built on racism it serves as a rallying point for people who hold to the ideal that people of European origin are inherently superior in every way to people of African origin. (The irony here is that most African-Americans also have European ancestors.)
However, if we are to live in a free society we must allow people to hold and advocate a wide variety of opinions. So, it falls to each of us as individuals to examine our ideals with a critical eye. If you find that your ideals, like the perpetrator on this tragedy, mean someone must die I suggest you re-think your ideals. Hate begets hate and retribution without end. The only solution is forgiveness and reconciliation.
Think about it.
On another matter, today is the last day of my Goodreads giveaway of “The Mindful Lifestyle”. Here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/143060-the-mindful-lifestyle