The vignettes presented of some of these devastating events were powerful and many of them are well known to the public. The analysis of subsequent issues that make it difficult to forgive, i.e., hate, anger and vengeance had a different relevancy to each circumstance.
For example, the former South African Apartheid official who had tortured and killed many of the native born Africans was showcased. He had indicated a change of heart which he attributed to a religious conversion and went to the home of one of his victims to ask for forgiveness many years later. What is also so egregious about this man is that he continued to harass the family knowing that he had killed their son. There was one family member who could not tolerate the fact that he had for some-- the gall and for others-- the spirit of atonement to enter their home. The result was an attack on this man. What I remember the most were the eyes of the former apartheid enforcer as blood dripped down his face. It was a startled look to be sure and one of actually realizing what he had done without the comfort he had probably gotten used to by others who encouraged this move. Remember those Truth and Reconciliation hearings? There are those who will be especially hard on the family member for the act and those who will feel sorry for the one who atoned and was harmed as a result of his actions.
The Amish tragedy was another example of the power of forgiveness subsequent to an unspeakable murderous act towards the children of their community. Ten of them were shot and 5 died along with the gunman. The Amish religious tenets were examined and their behavior towards the family of the gunman as an example of how they not only taught the concept of forgiveness but their behavior reflects how deeply they believe in it. I couldn't quite forget the ending when they were bulldozing the school house where the killings took place and one child had indicated that they may remove the school but the memory would remain. The narrator cited that he was told by another child to be quiet for they must forgive and forget. (my interpretation)
It would be interesting to hear how others feel about this. I would appreciate your comments. In fact, my compassion though limited and ambivalent was for the former apartheid enforcer but more so for the family member who retaliated. I felt his trauma and pain as well. I could not muster any forgiveness for the gunman who attacked the Amish children as he chose not to answer to anyone at least in this reality. Many would argue that it doesn't matter whether or not society forgives him. It only matters for the Amish community and they chose to do so. For the believers the final judgment has been sealed for him.
The question for me-- in most of these circumstances was how does one behave or feel when evil morphs into an act of atonement. Do we trust it? Hmmm.....
Forgiveness: UnityOf Spirit
Forgiveness: Mayo Clinic