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Forgiveness - Ed's journal

So, the Lockerbie bomber  Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi  is due for release on compassionate grounds - he's dying of cancer. So he's due to be sent home to Libya, rather than serve out the rest of his life in prison.

This, has caused some anger and outrage - the White House has been calling Scotland to protest, and families of those that died in the Lockerbie bombing are similarly upset. "Mr MacAskill has been under intense pressure from the US government to keep Megrahi behind bars, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying his release would be "absolutely wrong". "

Now here's the problem - I think all the people who are getting upset are all missing the important of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing, but contrary to popular belief, it's not for the sake of the person being forgiven. It's for the person doing the forgiving. Hate, anger, spite - these are all poisonous emotions. They colour our thoughts, distort our world view, and ... make our lives miserable, because they can never be truely satiated.

Forgiveness is important, because it's the act of letting go of those emotions. Putting them aside, and letting yourself be free to live, love, laugh and be happy. It can be very hard to forgive someone - fully and honestly, knowing that someone has wronged you SO MUCH. But that's what makes it all the more important. Because you're carrying with you a poisonous burden, that'll be with you until you let it go.

This release is really nothing to do with the prisoner - I'm sure he's pleased to be able to go home and spend his final days with loved ones - but ... it's much more to do with us. It's not his compassion, it's ours. What higher compassion is there to forgive someone who has hurt you? And what better way of letting go that burden of poisonous hate?

Prison serves three purposes - to remove a threat to society, to rehabilitate and to punish. None of those are relevant to a man dying of cancer.

So I say just let him go. Even in the knowledge that his sentence was to live out his life in a scottish prison. Even knowing he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people - loved ones and family members alike. Even if that had included some of my loved ones. I'd still say, that we are better for forgiving him, than maintaining our hate until the day he dies. As difficult as that is to do, and as much as that might hurt.

(His case was due to be contested at appeal, and there was evidence to be presented to support his innocence. This appeal has been deferred - and more likely cancelled - because he's dying.)

7 comments or Leave a comment
crashbarrier From: crashbarrier Date: August 20th, 2009 09:06 am (UTC) (Link)
The man is convicted of blowing up a plane which killed its passengers and it nearly destroyed the street of the quite town the wreckage landed on. The bomb involved was aimed not at military but at a wholey civillian target which impacted heavily again in a wholey civilian target.

The family's of the victims of this incident do not want him released from prison.. life=life.

This man has terminal cancer and wishes to die in the bosom of his family and in his home country.

It is not a decision I want to make.. which is why I am not a high court judge.

mister_jack From: mister_jack Date: August 20th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Not all the victim's families share that view, several have appeared on television supporting his release.
ool272 From: ool272 Date: August 20th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Several don't believe his guilt. I'm normally pretty contemptuous of conspiracy theories, but there are some pretty fishy things about this case.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: August 20th, 2009 10:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I won't deny what he's convicted of was an atrocity. I won't deny the righteous grief of his victims. What I'm saying though, is we have to ask ourselves - at what point does the desire for justice turn into a need for vengence?

I think the demands to keep him locked up are exactly that - justice is not served by keeping a dying man behind bars until his final hour. That's simply trying to slake the thirst for retribution.

Problem is, hate and a need for revenge... can never be satistifed. They're empty emotions, deep wells that can never be filled. Because at the end of the day, there is NOTHING that can be done to this man, that will bring back the loved ones, and ease the pain of their loss. There isn't even anything that can balance out the loss, as if there were ever some point where you could quantify relative suffering.

So it's with that in mind when I say 'let him go'. Those negative emotions are as harmful as the suffering that caused them. The only way to be free is to let them go as well. To forgive this man, despite what he has done.
mister_jack From: mister_jack Date: August 20th, 2009 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
ree_ From: ree_ Date: August 20th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to say I have mixed feelings on this one.

On one hand, this man is dying of cancer and the decision to release him to the care of his family in his own country may be the appropriate one. It's not like he is going to have (or has had) the quality of life one might get if one had, say, robbed a bank of millions and not got caught for nearly 20 years. This was multiple murder. Whether he's remorseful or not, he's dying. I do not judge if this is a good or bad thing.

But I am still haunted by pictures of a girl who died in the disaster; one or more of the exactly the same picture in every room in the house. I was fairly close to the situation at the time, knowing a family that were heavily involved with the campaign for justice. I'm not sure how they feel. I don't suppose I'll ever know.

It'd be nice to say 'now there's an end to things', but generally our feelings and emotions rarely get wrapped up in a bow and put in a lead box never to be seen again. When this man dies, or when the next bomb goes off, the box will be opened yet again.

Hmmm. I think it's time for a run in the garden with the dogs. Got a bit too thoughtful there.
mcnazgul From: mcnazgul Date: August 24th, 2009 08:12 am (UTC) (Link)
A very insightful post on the nature of forgiveness.

He's dying of cancer.

If you think it's not enough, ask yourself what would be?
7 comments or Leave a comment