In the last month I have listened to two particularly riveting interviews on BBC’s Today Programme. Both centre on the theme of forgiveness, although this was not the purpose necessarily. In the first, Anthony Ray Hinton spoke of forgiving the Police officers who fabricated the evidence that subsequently led to him spending almost 30 years on death row. Now released, during the interview he spoke of how life had changed since he was incarcerated. He found it difficult to comprehend the changes in technology and marvelled at the development of shopping centres. He promised to pray for those who committed this injustice that evening before he went to sleep as he has done for the last 28 years. This is a most compelling story and you can listen to the interview for yourself here (8 minutes).
In the second interview, Eva Mozes Kor spoke of the horrific experiences endured by her and her twin sister Miriam and thousands of other sets of twins in the name of genetic testing. The ‘experiments’ were undertaken by Josef Mengele during 1944 and 1945. Mengele carried out a number of tests on twins as young as 5 and 6 including sex change operations, lethal injections and the removal of organs and limbs. Many were without anaesthetic. Individuals were subject to these trials because they were born into Jewish families. A few weeks ago, on the day Eva got to face one of the Jewish guards who stood by while this happened, Olef Groening, now 93 years old, she ended up hugging and forgiving him. This story is captivating and you can listen to it here (8 minutes).
In comparison I have also engaged with a number of people in organisations over time who have articulated their unwillingness to forgive hurt and actions by current or former colleagues. In some cases revenge has been, or is being, plotted. Offences have ranged from the way change has been handled through to one’s lunch incorrectly being taken from the communal fridge.
Eva says powerfully that in forgiving, the person we are helping most is ourselves rather than the other person. She comments: ‘As long as we understand my forgiveness that the victim has a right to be free, you cannot be free from what was done to you unless you remove from your shoulder the daily burden of pain and anger and forgive – not because they deserve it, but because I deserve it’.
Before I finish, a reminder that my next book, published by Bloomsbury comes out in a few weeks. Please click here to take a look and preorder your copy.
And finally, a staggering example of archaic prejudices and presumptions still present today: a female Doctor denied entry to female locker room as computer system assumed only males are Doctors. Read the detail.
Until next month,