Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why Forgive?

You may have read that Detective Steven McDonald of the NYPD just passed away.

NPR report on why he was considered a NYC icon.

McDonald died Tuesday at the age of 59, after being hospitalized Friday for a heart attack. In the more than three decades after his paralysis, McDonald took on the stature of a larger-than-life symbol of forgiveness — a police officer whose sacrifice was heralded by generations of mayors and institutions in New York City.
 "No one could have predicted that Steven would touch so many people, in New York and around the world," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement. "Like so many cops, Steven joined the N.Y.P.D. to make a difference in people's lives. And he accomplished that every day."...

McDonald went on to become something of an ambassador for the NYPD and for his Catholic faith. He met with Pope John Paul II, spoke to New York City classrooms, co-wrote a book on his recovery, campaigned for gun control and against stem cell research, even had an award named in his honor by the New York Rangers.
From Plough magazine on why he decided to forgive his attacker.

Our faith suddenly became very important to us: the Catholic mass, prayers, our need for God. It was God’s love that put me back together. And it came from many different corners. Christians of every orientation, Jews, Muslims, and people of no faith at all were rooting for me...
People often ask if I forgave Shavod right away, or if it took time. It has evolved over the years. I think about it almost every day. I was angry at him, but I was also puzzled, because I found I couldn’t hate him. More often than not I felt sorry for him. I wanted him to find peace and purpose in his life. I wanted him to turn his life to helping and not hurting people. That’s why I forgave him. It was also a way of moving on, a way of putting the terrible incident behind me...
We still struggled every day. My wife wanted to know why a teenager had to do this to me. Growing up, my son saw other fathers and sons playing and wanted to know why he couldn’t have that experience with his dad. We still struggle. I have learned that prayer is something we do in our time and the answers come in God’s time. And prayers are not always answered the way we think they should be.

Stuart Ramson/Invision for Kelly Cares Foundation


ironically, the NPR article notes he corresponded with his assailant in jail but refused to intervene for him to get early parole,

The correspondence ended after McDonald "turned down a request from Mr. Jones's family to seek parole," according to the Times, saying "he was not knowledgeable or capable enough to intervene."

This might not make sense to the Francis-church types, who believe the best about everyone, but those of us in the real world, who have seen evil, know that it is one thing to forgive someone, and another thing to let the perpetrator go free because he "fakes" repentance and maybe repeat his crime against someone else.

In my time as a doc, I treated three babies who were left in the care of a father who had abused them in the past but repented, so was allowed by family (and in two cases by the social worker) to be alone with the kid again... two of the kids died...

Children of light underestimate the evil of the children of darkness, as one sarcastic Jewish carpenter warned once said after telling a parable about a crooked steward who was embezzling his employer.

Joe Kenda, call your office...

Niebuhr's famous essay about the problem here.

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