Sunday, March 12, 2006

Forgiveness and understanding

Rachel’s recent posts and upcoming article have set off my mind along the path of delving into this colossal subject.

From the very moment I discovered that the cause of those 40 terror filled minutes, deep underground in a dark, smoke filled, tunnel, was a young man detonating his own body I have felt no anger towards him. Even once the death toll started to filter through, there was nothing. Perhaps if a loved one had been killed, if I had lost a limb, been physically disfigured, maybe then it would have been different. If the bombers were still alive they may have become a perfect target for the over activity of my, post traumatic stress fuelled, mind. I don’t know.

Initially I was numb, in retrospect I know it was shock, although at the time I truly believed I was coping. The first, but not isolated, incident of yelling at the electronic messenger disguised as a TV was when Tony Blair stood up and told us all to ‘carry on as normal’ and ‘get back on the tube’. ‘Get back on the tube?!” I retaliated, ‘were you there? Do you know what it was like? I’d like to see you going back down underground after that’. “How DARE he’ I thought, how dare he, fresh from his cosy summit in Gleneagles, hop back down to this city in turmoil & smugly tell us just to carry on. Was that it? Just carry on and everything will be fine. Well it wasn’t and it won’t. The anger within me awoke.

It surfaced again, weeks later, when the video of Khan was released. Suddenly it was real. There sat this, seemingly eloquent, young man, with his familiar, almost comforting, Yorkshire accent, telling me why we all deserved to die. He justified his actions by accusing us of supporting our government in their invasion of Iraq, in their torture of his ‘brethren’, in their illegal war. Again I fought back against the sound waves radiating from my plastic box, ‘I didn’t support them!’. Hundreds and thousands of us marched against them, demonstrated, wrote, spoke and desperately tried to make them listen. They ignored us, and now we, the people, are being slaughtered for their actions.

The anger towards the bombers has subsided. Does this mean that I have forgiven them? The anger towards Tony Blair is escalating exponentially. Is it just that Blair is an easier target, is it that he is still alive? Have I diverted my anger towards someone I feel more comfortable in hating? I am not sure. I partied with the throngs on Upper Street the day we voted him into power, how could I have envisaged that this is where it would lead.

I have navigated my road to forgiveness through the search for understanding. Some may say this has become an almost unhealthy obsession. I think it a necessary journey. For me, the roots of forgiveness are found within the soil of comprehension. I am not religious; I do not have the strength for forgiveness, in the Christian sense of the word. My mind is driven by logic, I need to know why.

I have read, researched, watched and absorbed, everything I can lay my hands on to help me in this quest. Only this afternoon I ordered a book called ‘The Osama bin Laden I know’. I need to arm myself with the facts, the history, the beliefs in order to be able to process the fundamental cause of this worldwide conflict of which I have become ‘collateral damage’.

Forgiveness, in my mind, is self preservation. I will never forget, but I am able to forgive. Only by forgiving can one move on into the future, taking the positive aspects of your past with you and laying the destructive ones to rest.

My quest for understanding is ongoing, but I am at a stage where I have enough insight into their motivations to forgive. This doesn’t mean I sympathise or condone their actions. I have extracted, from my research, an inkling of the depth of turmoil and injustice which drove them to take their lives for the single purpose of taking others with them.

Although I have forgiven them, I feel nothing but contempt towards our leader. He was democratically elected to serve this country for the good of the people, not to fight for his balance of power upon the world stage. He is there to serve us, he has failed miserably in this capacity.

So, the anger is still very much alive and growing within me. Perhaps the extremity of the bombers’ actions means that I will, for ever, be unable to truly empathise with what they did. Neither can I imagine myself in the position of leading this, or any other, country. However I still have the integrity to know that what is happening now is wrong, very very wrong.

See also fellow passengers Yorkshire Lass' & Steve's views on this