Forgiveness in a Non-Christian Context

In the current Southwest Airlines inflight magazine, there is an article about a man whose son was murdered by another man’s grandson, and how they came together to promote forgiveness.

The victim’s father practices Sufi Islam, the grandfather of the murderer does not mention any religion at all. And yet the story lays out all the familiar tropes about forgiveness we are constantly exposed to, such as that it is necessary for the victim to forgive for spiritual growth, mental health and other reasons.

The crime took place in San Diego in 1995 and contact between the two men featured, the victim’s father and murderer’s grandfather, occurred during the sentencing. The father started an anti-violence foundation and in 2000 met with and forgave face-to-face his son’s murderer.

The murderer is described, as is the custom in these writings, in the most childlike and innocent terms. His decision to take a plea bargain is described not as the perfectly pragmatic decision it clearly was but on the words only of his grandfather, as a noble effort to take responsibility. He is described as too, a victim of violence, a person who was destroyed on the other end.

But how is this? He was showered with love by his grandfather, with whom he lived. He lived not in the ghetto, but in a nice working-class neighborhood favored by college students. He was under no compulsion at all and driven by no desperation to become a gang member, and kill a man over the possession of a large pizza.

There is a liberal idea that the fact that a person does evil is by definition proof that they are suffering. This certainly isn’t a biblical idea, and seems to be an Eastern idea from Buddhism and/or Hinduism that such behavior comes from a person very early in the stages of reincarnation. The metaphor is that of the lotus flower, which has roots in the mud at the bottom of the river, then grows up into the light.

Christianity however does not believe in a cycle of reincarnation in which humans grow to enlightenment over many lives. Christianity believes in one life, governed by a combination of predestination and free will. Christianity believes in a just God, who condemns unjust violence and evil. A God who has great mercy but in no way excuses wrongdoing. Forgiveness isn’t an open-ended, blanket thing as it is in Eastern mysticism, but based on specific actions by the evildoer, including repentance.

Among all the hand-holding and singing of “Kumbaya” reality must sometimes intrude. The article only tells us that the murder in 2003- after years of visits from his victim’s father, and years of receiving love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness, “plead guilty to assault on a prison guard and possession of a weapon” and was transferred to a maximum security prison. Doesn’t sound much like a person who has turned his back on violence, does it? The full story is even tawdrier. We learn from a single news article in an obscure San Diego paper that the murderer approached and repeatedly stabbed in the chest a guard. It would appear that he fully intended to kill, to commit murder for a second time, and only his lack of a better weapon and skilled medical treatment prevented this. Why does the article need to whitewash this? Why can’t it just say he tried to kill a prison guard by stabbing him, after years of mercy and compassion? Because that would not support the narrative. As with all leftism, facts that don’t support the narrative are forgotten.

I feel sorry for Azim Khamisa. He has had to deal with one of the worst things that a human being can face. But denying reality does not help in the end. Don’t make out Tony Hicks to be a victim in any way. He is a human being who has repeatedly chosen to do great evil. His “worldly sorrow” at getting caught and punished- very typical of criminals- should not be confused with repentance.

I just read a Jeff Crippen post at “A Cry For Justice” that went directly to this. The people above aren’t Christian- although the murderer’s grandfather, Ples Felix, mentions praying he does not mention Jesus or even God- and appear to be driven mostly by New Age and Eastern ideas- and yet the Christian church loves to shower love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness on the perpetrators while offering none to the victim, only a demand to forgive.

One really sad thing is mentioned in the Southwest article. Only in passing, it is mentioned that the victim’s girlfriend never got over his death, turned to drugs and died of an overdose. Azim Khamisa had countless hours for Tony Hicks, the man who killed his son over a pizza, but never mentions spending any time with his son’s girlfriend at all. Tariq Khamisa was and is beyond help, except for prayers for the dead, if you believe in such things. His girlfriend was very much alive and in great suffering, and if there was someone who legitimately needed help, it was her. I pray for Tariq and Jennifer, that in the next life they might know God’s love. I pray for Azim Khamisa.

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