Editorial: We don’t have to forgive and forget | TribLIVE.com
Editorials

Editorial: We don’t have to forgive and forget

1757757_web1_1754683-e2fa4460477b44c698fd66bcaee5cd6c
AP
In this Sept. 21, 2017, file photo, provided by Harding University in Searcy, Ark., Botham Jean leads worship at a university presidential reception in Dallas. Fired Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger, who shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed 26-year-old neighbor in his own apartment last year, was found guilty of murder by a jury on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.

We can forgive without forgetting.

On Wednesday, Amber Guyger — the former Dallas police officer convicted of murder for shooting Botham Jean in his apartment after she mistakenly walked in, thinking it was her home — was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

What garnered almost as much attention as the conviction and punishment was the moment that followed — the moment when Jean’s brother Brandt offered forgiveness and asked if he could hug the slight blonde.

“I want the best for you, because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want,” he said, citing his Christian belief in the power of atonement.

“And I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you,” he added.

There is a lot of emotion there. It speaks of empathy and faith. Some found it hard to understand. How could that be the answer to the pain of such a tragic loss?

So many American communities have been strained and torn by what has followed when a black man has died from a white police officer’s bullet. Pittsburgh has been there in the aftermath of the Antwon Rose II shooting and the trial and aquittal of former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld.

This time was different. Guyger was off-duty. There was no traffic stop or response to a call. There was no doubt she was wrong, just whether it was a crime or not.

For some, it seemed to hurt when the case ended in a sentence that seemed too short and then an emotional embrace from a family member. Those feelings have merit and shouldn’t be dismissed.

But there should be room for forgiveness. It shouldn’t be expected or demanded, but if it is offered, the public shouldn’t scorn the decision that helps one family member heal. There has to be an understanding that as we all look toward the storm of the tragedy, the family is in the eye. This is their pain to overcome, not ours to join or condemn.

What others can do is not forget.

Let forgiveness focus on the soul. But by not forgetting what happened, justice isn’t reserved for courthouses.

Not forgetting means keeping the lessons and the losses in mind, and working every day toward a world where no one’s grief and politics have to sit in the same pew at a funeral or on the same bench in a courtroom. Mourning a life and striving for change need their own space and time.

There is hope in the Guyger case — hope that justice can be done, hope that people can be held responsible, and yes, hope that forgiveness isn’t lost.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.