As we witness senseless acts committed against others, we desperately want answers to some nagging questions. The most important of those begin with “Why?”
- Someone acted out of revenge.
- Someone acted from political motive.
- Someone acted in an incapacitated mental state.
- Someone acted out of hatred.
- Someone acted from a state of evil
Or, someone acted because of some or all of the above.
If we were to ask that same “why” question to the perpetrators at this very moment, we might hear words like “duty” and “mission” and “honor.”
But there is no honor in violence.
Regardless of how high an individual might want to exalt their violent acts, honor is simply absent. And it doesn’t matter where we find the violence. It’s always wrong.
Some responses to the misguided behavior of others result in violence. Yet, our law enforcement and military experts will always tell us that a violent response is only appropriate as a last resort.
Setting bombs that will kill or maim people, whether they’re on a roadside in Afghanistan or in an urban setting like Boston, are not actions of last resort. Acts of aggression are never appropriate.
Since there is no honor in violence, our course now in the shadow of this tragedy, is one of reason and purpose. We should:
- Concentrate our efforts on assisting the victims and the families of this violent act.
- Encourage the investigation that will bring those responsible to account for their actions.
- Support systems of justice that enforce the principles and values of a civilized people — even in the face of those who choose to act in an uncivilized manner.
- Begin preparing a place of forgiveness in our hearts.
I know that many who read this will feel an understandable revulsion to the idea of forgiving those who kill and maim innocent people. Remember that forgiveness does not erase all consequences. Forgiveness works its wonders even when our “side” is completely innocent and doing what is fair and good. Forgiveness releases the person who was wronged to live a life of honor and without fear.
Forgiveness and the pursuit of justice are what make us the good guys. We must not confuse justice with revenge. True justice carries with it honor.
And honor cannot exist where forgiveness fails.