Radical Act of Forgiveness Makes National News

October 8, 2019, 10:13 am

I used to love watching the news to stay caught up on current events. As a teenager and younger man, I had an interest in politics, so the news fed my interest. But over the last ten years, I’ve become tired of watching what has, to me, become a partisan propaganda machine. It’s difficult to get the truth anymore. Instead, news reporting is grossly slanted in one political direction or another. Maybe it’s always been that way, and now I’m simply aware of it. I don’t know. 

The national news, especially, is always so negative. Heart-moving stories are seldom seen. So, when I saw a touching story about radical forgiveness recently, I knew I had to write about it. As many touching stories go, this one started with heartbreak. Amber Guyger, a white police officer, shot and killed her upstairs neighbor in what has been characterized as a “tragic mistake.” Upon opening the door of what she thought was her own apartment, she saw Botham Jean, a black man she apparently did not know, and drew her weapon, firing at him immediately. Only after firing did Guyger realize she had not entered her own apartment. Tragically, Jean died from the gunshot wound. 

Because I am not privy to the details of the case as presented in court, I do not know how it is possible that Guyger could have made such a mistake, nor why she reacted so violently without question. Clearly, she made a terrible mistake, but was it simply her training as a police officer that caused her to react so swiftly, without question? I don’t know. The jury was clearly convinced of her guilt, but they were also convinced that she had no premeditated intent to murder Jean. She was convicted and sentenced to a ten-year prison sentence. 

The moving part of the story happened after Guyger’s sentence. Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt, only eighteen years old, approached Guyger in the courtroom and embraced her. Along with his shocking embrace, Brandt offered Guyger his forgiveness, choosing to not hold bitterness towards his brother’s killer. Even the judge was moved by such a display of radical forgiveness. 

It didn’t take long for the critics to appear, condemning Brandt for his actions and racializing the story. But what right do they have to condemn Brandt for choosing forgiveness? Does he not have the right to choose how he responds to this tragedy? Others have now filed a lawsuit against the judge for “overstepping” judicial propriety. Does the judge not have discretion to pursue justice in all its forms, including restorative justice? Or are judges restricted to harsh retribution? 

While I find it additionally tragic that others not involved in the case feel compelled to tell Brandt, his family, and the judge what justice should look like, I’m glad this is a national story. Brandt and his radical display of forgiveness is moving because it’s so uncommon. Yet, in being uncommon, it is also what so many of us long for in our own lives. 

Botham Jean’s death is a tragedy–one Brandt and the rest of the family will have to live with for the rest of their lives. It’s a tragedy Guyger will have to live with, too. But Brandt’s example of radical forgiveness has jump-started the path towards healing. It also provides the rest of us a picture of what is possible if we, too, choose to respond to tragedy with compassion.

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Author: hopeontheinside.blogspot.com
The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry.

The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry.