Valarie Kaur: Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not forgetting: Forgiveness is freedom from hate. Two
days after nine black people were massacred by a white supremacist in
a historic black church in Charleston in June 2015, their family members
showed up at his bond hearing, looked into his eyes, and said, “I forgive
you.” I felt sick to my stomach. This man did not deserve their
forgiveness. I worried that saying these words too quickly cut short our
right to express our divine rage, publicly and internally. Yet these family
members chose to forgive as a declaration of their own autonomy, as if
to say no matter what you do to us, we will not allow you to make us
hate you. I thought about my own community’s choice to pray for the
gunman after the mass shooting of Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Forgiveness was not a substitute for justice; it had energized us in the
fight for justice. It reframed justice not as retribution but as cultural and
From See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur. Page 263 (Random House, 2021).
Lovely and courageous. I hope I’d be as brave as this poet if faced with similar circumstances.
me too, Patricia.
It’s a tough, counterintuitive concept that I often needle my students with. Forgiveness is not necessarily a release from the desire and/or need for justice is the best way that I can articulate it. Often far from it.
It’s a tough, counterintuitive concept that I often needle my students with. Forgiveness is not necessarily a release from the and/or need for justice is the best way that I can articulate it. Often far from it.
Thanks, Matt. The process of forgiveness is difficult, paradoxical and necessary. I can’t afford to carry anger and resentment. These emotions will lead me down a dark and deadly path.
A wise person once said that forgiveness is setting a prisoner free, then realizing the prisoner is you.
And it’s still hard. It is “part of being alive.”
Amazing, amazing…the gift of forgiveness actually being a gift to ones self! I’m not there yet but yearn for it…
So often Vox fills a need, even when I struggle to understand why the need exists. Thank you
Me, too, Valerie. Still working on it, part of being alive.
Reblogged this on Myriad Ways and commented:
I am not there yet, but if we could get by without hate, we could move into a better world.