Forgiveness – Is it Necessary?

Inspiration through a story

What inspired me to write this Post today was a News story I just read

The article was written by Sharon Cohen in “The Associated Press” and is titled “Death Row Inmate at 16, Later Freed, Couldn’t Escape Past”

Thirty years ago, Paula Cooper, at the age of 15, along with three other girls, planned the robbery of an elderly Bible Teacher in Gary, Indiana named Ruth Pelke. They knocked on the door of her house pretending to be interested in Scripture lessons. In the chaos that followed, Cooper, armed with a 12-inch knife, stabbed the 78 year old widow 33 times.

During sentencing, Cooper’s older sister, Rhonda testified about her and Paula’s turbulent upbringing. She said her stepfather, now deceased, disciplined them with beatings. She also described how their Mother once turned on the car in the garage and announced that they were all going to heaven.

A Defense Psychologist who’d interviewed Cooper found evidence of a “major personality disorder” and also noted her traumatic childhood.

The judge in the case noted the same thing, but the law, he said, gave him no choice. Cooper became one of the youngest juveniles in America on death row.

but this is not the end to the story…

An Impossible Friendship

Four months into her sentence, Cooper forged a most improbable life-changing friendship.

It began when Bill Pelke was thinking about his beloved Grandma’s unwavering Faith. He became convinced she’d have compassion for Paula Cooper and be appalled by her sentence. He asked God, he says, for that same compassion and when his prayers were answered, he decided to fight to spare Cooper’s life.

During the months and years that followed, he would travel across the World as an anti-death penalty activist and fight to save the life of the very person who murdered his own Grandmother. During this time he had also exchanged numerous letters with Paula Cooper while she was in prison and began to understand who she really was, which was not the monster that others in his family may have once thought.

In 1989, the Indiana Supreme Court vacated her execution, citing a recent state law and U.S. Supreme court ruling on juvenile death sentences. Cooper’s new sentence was 60 years, in which she ended up serving 27 and was released on parole in 2013. While in Prison, Cooper had learned a lot of life lessons. She also had matured, earning a bachelor’s degree in Humanities from Martin University in Indianapolis.

I wish I could say that ultimately this story ended well for Paula, but unfortunately, a couple of years after her release, Paula’s guilt of what she had done infected her so deeply that she decided to commit suicide.

Forgiving Grandma’s killer

In my eyes, after reading this article from the Associated Press, I believe that Bill Pelke is a hero and that like him, we should all follow.

What Bill Pelke saw in his Grandmother’s killer far exceeded “the surface”. He saw the truth. He saw that Paula was a human being capable of change and he put aside his desire for hate and revenge and replaced it with one of Love, understanding, and friendship.

Paula had almost made it but decided to succumb in the end to her own guilt for what she had done.

Do we deserve forgiveness

The bible discusses that God created all of us in his own image.

I want to make clear, however, that I am not just reaching out to Christians when I write this Post. I am reaching out to Everybody, whether you believe in God or not, so what I want you to understand is the concept…

…and the concept is, that if God is Pure Goodness, and we were created in his image, than ALL of us are inherently good.

In other words, no matter how “bad” we might get, how far we may stray from God, or how corrupted our society may get, we ALL still have “good” within us, even if it’s hard to see.

Bill Pelke saw this within Paula Cooper and we should be able to see this in others as well

Think of the person you consider your worst enemy right now and try something different…

…take your mind off the “bad” things for a second and write down all the things they do or have done that you feel is “good”.

I’d say most of us can write at least ONE good thing on that list.

This is the reason why we should forgive…

…that “little person” inside of them that can make a positive difference in the World if given a chance…

…and it is because of this “little person inside of us” that God chooses to forgive us and keep the world “turning” regardless of how corrupt society has become.

What would happen if everyone in the world forgave each other

I will make my overall point in this Blog Post with one simple thought:

What would happen if, in the next 5 minutes, EVERYONE in the World forgave each other for all wrongdoings committed against them?

The Earth would cease to be Earth. It would now be like Heaven.

Let’s look at all the things caused by people’s inability to forgive each other:

Wars

Divorce

Murders/Killing

Terrorist attacks

Prison

All Court Cases/lawsuits

Segregation

Gangs

Misappropriation of Wealth

Homelessness/Poverty

Fraud

The above list is just several examples of social problems created by the refusal of people to forgive each other.

The Future

In closing, I would like to say that God has given all of us “free will”.

Some of you will read this and still go on seeking revenge or hate on any person that wrongs you…

…but I hope that at least some of you will read this and go on to forgive those who have wronged you and do your part into helping to “heal” this world.

With as many people as there are in the World and the extent of the corruption, I don’t think that we will ever see the “fruits” of what would take place if everyone in the World forgave each other at the same time, therefore, there will always be problems in the world such as wars, violence, and poverty…

…but…

…if we change our perspective, we may be able to change our “own world” and experience at least some of the beautiful things God intended for us while we are here.

However, even if life still remains hard for a lot of us on this Earth, God has promised to reward the people that can learn to forgive and you will see the “fruits” of that in the next World you enter into.

 

 

* This post features some direct excerpts from the article “Death Row Inmate at 16, Later Freed, Couldn’t Escape Past” written by Sharon Cohen and published by Associated Press on 10/03/2015. You can find the article on MSN News here: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/death-row-inmate-at-16-later-freed-she-cant-escape-past/ar-AAf4bTr