On this Easter Sunday, let us forgive those who have offended us

Sunday, March 31, 2013

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WE all make mistakes, some more egregious and costly than others. When mistakes are made by those in the public "eye", forgiveness can be appropriate, especially after the offender has demonstrated contrition.

As the Bible reminds us, it is the Christian way to forgive those who trespass against us. But even if we cannot forgive and forget, we should not prevent the rehabilitation of the offender. We should encourage, recognise, and salute it when it is manifested publicly. Rehabilitation has impacted many great people, eg the conversion of Saul to Paul, Malcolm X; or restored some remarkable people, like Bill Clinton.

Rehabilitation can be such a transformational experience that the person goes on to achievements that they did not think possible. However, rehabilitation has two dimensions: the contrition and transformation by the offender; and the acceptance and willingness to give a second chance by the public.

We must recall the sage advice of Confucius when he said: "Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

There have been two recent examples of rehabilitation that are worthy of our consideration. We speak of the former Prime Minister Bruce Golding and the super golfer Mr Tiger Woods.

Mr Golding fell from the highest post in Jamaica to being reviled for his actions and judgements over the extradition of the notorious Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, the former Tivoli Gardens strongman.

Mr Golding experienced ridicule in the media, shame in Gordon House, embarrassment at the Manatt Commission of Enquiry, political demotion and public humiliation. On top of all of that came an almost crippling back problem requiring multiple surgeries both in Jamaica and Miami. After nearly two years of political exile and recuperation, he has re-emerged, having done his penance.

His statement on the Government's use of funds from the National Housing Trust showed the pragmatism and astuteness which he is capable of. More recently, he reminded us that Jamaica cannot afford to banish a person of his intellect and long experience in public affairs from national dialogue. He has a lot to contribute and we encourage him to continue to make that contribution.

Mr Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer in the history of the game, has returned to the number one spot in this pristine sport. His physical, mental and technical rehabilitation has taken three years. He crashed and burned from being one of the best-paid, richest sportsmen to portrayal as a sexual pervert. He was a serial offender who showed poor judgement and suffered the loss of his family, a huge part of his fortune, the ability to play golf, endorsement revenue and his personae as a role model and inspiration for people of colour.

Both Messrs Golding and Woods have shown character and courage, and deserve the chance to be rehabilitated. They have shown that they have learnt from past mistakes and are ready to make a meaningful contribution once again. Let us be generous of spirit and give them the benefit of the doubt. Many of us will at some time need just such understanding.

There is no better time to reflect on this than on Easter Sunday as the Christian world commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.




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