Though I had read about it yesterday, actually hearing Esaw Garner’s response to her husband’s murderer’s “condolences” this morning was downright inspiring. You can hear it (or read it) for yourself. It included choice phrases like “Hell no!” and “No, I don’t accept his apology.”
The top search result for the story:
Thanks to the cult of forgiveness, murdering an unarmed man on camera doesn’t count as “lashing out” or “fury”, but not accepting a lukewarm fauxpology does. Between the ostensibly secular self-help industry and the influence of Christianity, Americans have a society-wide obsession with forgiveness and total disregard for actual atonement.
Back when I was a Muslim, I used to joke that Christianity seemed like an incredibly sweet deal. Now that I’m an atheist, it seems even more appalling. You could be the worst person in the world as long as you started believing in Jesus-as-savior at some point in your life and didn’t go on to renounce the belief. You could even take up the belief at the very last nanosecond of your life and according to many versions of Christianity, you’d still be “saved”. The harm that you did to others somehow wouldn’t matter. Meanwhile, a selfless humanitarian of another faith wouldn’t stand a chance of getting into heaven. Heck, the victim of a “saved” person who isn’t a Christian would go to hell while the person who harmed them would go to heaven.
There are secular, god-excluding iterations of the cult of forgiveness, too. Pop pseudo-“psychology” books urge people to kiss the very hands that have throttled them by forgiving even the unremorseful perpetrators of harm. They take their cues from Protestant Christianity, where faith is cherished as superior to and superseding actions.
Specific examples of the harm caused by forgiveness-pushing abound. Remember Steubenville, where the fates of the rapists were lamented on national television without any care for the victim, despite the fact that the rapists didn’t show remorse until after they had been convicted?
Personally speaking, when I speak of trauma and pain, I hear that I ought to forgive people rather than any expressions of empathy towards me for having been wronged. I have found that not accepting the penitence of the perpetrator of even the most abhorrent actions is an incredible taboo in society. You’re supposed to demonstrate that you are “the bigger person” by saying that you have forgiven everyone for everything bad that they’ve ever done to you.
I’m with Esaw Garner on this. Preventing harm ought to be our priority rather than accepting the too-little-too-late expressions of sad feelz on the part of those who inflict harm.