It was the monthly Meeting for Worship in my home yesterday. After we had shaken hands at the close, we began discussing the case of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the 'Lockerbie bomber', who has just been returned to Libya on compassionate grounds due to his suffering from terminal cancer.
My F/friend Michelle brought the topic up. It has been much on her mind. She said the thing that kept coming back to her, among all the hurt and anger that his release had stirred up, was:
Revenge is not justice.
It is so difficult, when someone does something to harm us, to keep a clear head. Our immediate instinct is to hurt them in return. That may be a natural reaction, but we know that it is not the best outcome. We know, as Ghandi said, that 'an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.' Forgiveness is such a hard, hard thing to achieve sometimes, and there will be times when we feel we will never get there. But it is also healing, for the person harmed as much as, if not more than, the perpetrator.
We also need to remember that our forgiveness is not dependent on their remorse. We can forgive, and let go the hurt, and refuse to give them that power over us any more. Although I have never been involved in a tragedy such as Lockerbie, I can speak this truth from very unpleasant and dangerous personal experience.
Revenge does not heal; forgiveness does. I hope that all involved in this terrible tragedy will be able to find the truth of this for themselves, and not let it warp their whole lives.