Finding the Courage to Forgive

“If we believe terrorists are past redemption, we should just rip up like 1/2 the NT because it was written by one.” –Shane Claiborne

A few weeks ago I heard a talk by Shane Claiborne. For those of you who don’t know, Shane is a peace activist who advocates for non-violence on a personal and societal level. He believes in, and promotes, forgiveness because he truly believes that, “Grace has the power to dull even the sharpest sword.”

Today I did a little experiment. I typed in “Boston Bombings” on Google, and to no surprise, all of the articles I found started by talking about the bombing suspects, and the investigation to find out who we can punish for this act. When an act of terror occurs, the media focuses all of its energy on who did the act and how those people will pay for what they’ve done. It emphasizes the type of justice that involves finding a punishment that will harm the person who did the crime as much as that person harmed others. It’s all about that person getting a fair penalty for their crime. Our justice system does not emphasize forgiveness, but rather emphasizes people paying for their mistakes.

There is a quote on a poster that I’ve seen in many places around campus. It says, “All religions believe in justice.” However, the type of justice this is referring to is not the type that we observe in our criminal justice system in the states. While our system is discriminatory and revolves around profits and punishment, the justice of faith traditions is about love and forgiveness.

Trying to get someone to see how they have hurt us or someone else, or trying to control how someone will act in the future, has nothing to do with forgiveness. The World English Dictionary defines “forgive” as to free from the obligation of. Forgiveness grants the person we are forgiving freedom. It grants them the freedom that they were born with that is a part of their human dignity. Forgiveness is not something that should be based off of what a person will do for us in the future or how they will change. Rather, forgiveness is a gift that should be given to everyone, and that everyone should receive as part of their dignity.

As Shane Claiborne says, “All of us are better than the worst thing we’ve done.” We are all human, and everyone makes mistakes. Some of those mistakes are small, and some of those are much bigger. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter; because God forgives everyone, and in our journey to be more like him, we should strive to forgive everyone as well.

By forgiving people for the wrongs they have done, we are not excusing the pain they have caused. I wish that whoever bombed the Boston marathon, had never felt the need to do so. But I also know that people cause others pain and suffering when they are in pain or are suffering. Humans hurt other humans when they don’t feel loved, or when they are craving attention. What if when violent acts occurred, we reached out those who had committed the act? What if we told them that we forgive them, and embraced them unconditionally instead of shunning them and dehumanizing them? What if we loved them regardless of how much they hurt us? How would that person react? Do you think we’d be getting to the root of what caused the problem in the first place-namely that the person didn’t feel loved? I do. We should all strive to forgive those who wrong us. Because we are all human, we all make mistakes, we are all imperfect. And regardless of our faults, God loves us, and in doing so, he calls us to love one another.

So even though forgiveness is one of the hardest things for us to do, I believe we are called to try and forgive everyone regardless of what they have done. Every person deserves to be loved, every human being is inherently good, and everyone has the potential to find redemption. Yes forgiveness is hard, but, as Shane Claiborne says, ” Each time that we want to hate, we can always find the courage to love.”

-Haley Warren

Advocacy Alerts

Here our this week’s Advocacy Alerts from the Creighton Center for Service and Justice Advocacy team!

Sierra Club
(Climate Action)
On February 17, nearly 50,000 Americans and 168 different organizations marched to the president’s front door to demand we go forward on climate action. This wasn’t just a one-time rally, but rather it was the beginning of a movement.
Now we need to show President Obama that those marchers represented millions of us across the country. There are three steps President Obama can take right now, without waiting on Congress, to start fulfilling his promise to lead on climate. It’s up to you to help him take those steps.
Call the White House today at (202) 456-1111 and tell them that, for the sake of our future, we need President Obama to: Stop Keystone XL and other tar sands infrastructure, enact strong standards to limit carbon pollution from our nation’s dirty power plants, and protect America’s lands from oil, coal, and fracking. If the line is busy, keep trying! Help keep track of our united progress by reporting your call here!

Sierra Club
(Mountaintop Removal Issues)
For many people living near mountaintop removal coal mining sites in Appalachia, the water they use for bathing, cooking, and even drinking is cloudy, brown, and toxic. Years of mountaintop removal coal mining has buried 2,000 miles of local streams with waste from Big Coal’s destruction; many of the streams that are left are devoid of life. Well water in the area isn’t safe either, and it’s making people sick.
Tell President Obama and the EPA that everyone deserves clean water. Sign the petition urging them to act now to protect Appalachia from mountaintop removal mining!

Amnesty International
(Abolish the Death Penalty in Maryland!)
In less than a month we can win a huge victory in the fight against capital punishment. Maryland is set to become the 18th U.S. state to repeal the death penalty: a cruel, unnecessary and wasteful policy that risks executing the innocent.
The Maryland Senate may vote this week – and the vote will be very close. Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley has taken a leading role in the fight to end the death penalty in his state. Your voices, along with Gov. O’Malley’s leadership and influence, can push death penalty repeal across the finish line this year.
Sign this petition to urge Gov. O’Malley to keep the pressure on both for death penalty abolition AND for funding for victims’ families; and thank him for leading the charge for death penalty repeal in Maryland. Let’s turn the tide towards abolishing the death penalty in the U.S., and make Maryland state #18!

Amnesty International
(Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers!)
On March 18 – 28, 2013 world leaders will have a Final Conference to negotiate the first ever treaty that will prevent weapons from ending up in the hands of tyrants and child soldiers. The Obama Administration bears heavy responsibility to lead efforts in establishing a strong, human rights orientated treaty during the negotiation. Tell Obama that the world needs a Robust Arms Trade Treaty.

Ignatian Solidarity Network
(February’s Ignatian Family Advocacy Month)
This past month, numerous high schools, colleges, and universities, including Creighton, participated in IFAM. IFAM is a way for groups all across the country to participate in advocacy actions in solidarity with one another. To learn more about IFAM and how you can participate next year, click here!

Upcoming Events
Empowerment Network Monthly Meeting
On Saturday, March 9, 2013 at North High School – Viking Center – 4410 N. 36th Street come to “Unite & Transform!.” Starting at 8:45 a.m., there will be networking, breakfast, and table displays. At 9:30 a.m. there will be an Empowerment Network Update, and at 10 a.m. there will be presentations and announcements. All are welcome!

Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty (NADP)
The Myth of Redemptive Violence, Who Would Jesus Execute?
On April 20 at 4:00 p.m. Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty (NADP) will sponsor an eye-opening talk at Creighton University’s Harper Auditorium (602 N. 20th Street, Omaha). It will feature three very different people who all share one perspective – that the death penalty is broken, can’t be fixed, and should be repealed in Nebraska and elsewhere.
Red Letter Christian activist, writer and speaker Shane Claiborne will address, “The Myth of Redemptive Violence, Who Would Jesus Execute?;” Curtis McCarty will share the heartbreak of spending 21 years on Death Row for a murder he did not commit; Victoria Coward, whose teenage son was shot to death, will explain why so many murder victims’ family members feel abused by the death penalty system.
“These three compelling speakers will have people questioning the death penalty like never before,” said Stacy Anderson, NADP Executive Director. “The death penalty system hurts families, risks executing innocents and has people of faith raising questions.” Admission to the event is free, however space is limited. Please register here. Register here!

Advocacy Alerts

Thanks to the CCSJ Advocacy team these advocacy alerts!

Sustainability
Sierra Club
Public Power-Get Nebraska in the Game!
Nebraska is a public power state, which means that the future of our energy is decided by the public. Now is the time to create a future for Nebraska where we produce our own, local, clean energy.
Unfortunately, Nebraska is falling behind. Despite having the nation’s 4th best wind resources, we don’t even rank in the top 20 wind producing states. We are well behind other states in the region.
This is a crucial moment for the state’s energy future. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) has proposed a $1.5 billion modification plan to outdated coal plants — an unnecessary move that would lock us into decades of burning fossil fuels. Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and Lincoln Energy Services (LES) are facing similar decision points on their aging coal plants.
Get Nebraksa in the game and tell our three largest public power entities to invest in renewable energy! 
Economic Justice
Amnesty International
Corporate Respect for Human Rights in Myanmar
In July, the Obama administration lifted sanctions on the country where several positive reforms were initiated late last year after decades of human rights abuses. Now companies in the US Chamber of Commerce are moving in to capture a potentially lucrative new market.
But we believe human rights must come before profits. Burmese freedom fighter and Nobel Laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has raised the caution flag for corporations doing business in Myanmar — despite recent reforms, the country remains a hard place to do ethical business. Political prisoners, forced labor, and lack of accountability for past and ongoing human rights violations are just a few of the human rights challenges that businesses encounter.
Help Keep the pressure on big business. Urge President Tom Donohue, of the US Chamber of Commerce, to make sure US companies take Amnesty’s recommendations seriously, and put human rights first while doing business in Myanmar. 
Peace
Amnesty International
Investigate the Execution of Troy Davis
The execution of Troy Davis on Sept. 21, 2011, was an injustice. But the serious flaws in the case against Troy Davis – including police coercion and unreliable witness testimonies – are many of the same problems that plague many cases throughout our capital punishment and criminal justice systems. Amnesty International has collected 10 well-documented cases where the death penalty has been exercised unprofessionally, including the case of Troy Davis. From Georgia’s Attorney General to US Attorney General Eric Holder, we are demanding accountability. We want an independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all that was wrong with Troy’s case. Sign the letter asking the Attorney Generals to exercise more care when working with death penalty cases.