Forgiveness and silence on injustice

By The Editorial Board 16 January 2023, 6:00AM

Most religious scriptures hold forgiveness as an act towards the high end of the moral scale and for good reasons.

It is a tough thing to do especially to forgive someone who trespasses against you either physically, verbally or mentally therefore hats off to the leader of the Human Rights Protection Party Tuilaepa Sr Sailele Malielegaoi and the village of Solosolo.

The former prime minister spoke to the Samoa Observer and told of his reaction when he was assaulted by a woman. Mind you we have seen the same man kick up a fuss about issues smaller than this, but he was indeed on the right track when he said the matter was trivial.

As for the villagers of Solosolo, we hope that politics does not divide you again in the future. Samoans are passionate about politics and issues related to politics, especially which side you stand on, have often caused divisions.

It was great to see the opposing factions of the same village deciding to put their differences aside and come together for the betterment of the village. If this division which was caused in 2021 was not resolved, this would have led to an even more divided future where projects intended for the village and its people would not take off.

Villages in Samoa are the very source of how the nation operates. Every decision, every policy starts from the grassroots and the grassroots community in Samoa are the villages.

Kudos to both Stui and the village of Solosolo for being brave enough to forgive and accept the fact that holding grudges does no one good.

Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

Determined, purposeful emotional forgiveness causes forgetting and is an important first step in the forgiveness cascade. To sum it up, forgiveness is good for your body, your relationships, and your place in the world. That’s reason enough to convince virtually anyone to do the work of letting go of anger and working on forgiveness.

But forgiveness, like so many things in life, is easier said than done. Forgiveness can be a challenge for several reasons. Sometimes forgiveness can be confused with condoning what someone has done to us: “That’s OK. Why not do it again?”

While we accept that forgiveness is good for mind, body and soul, not all acts should be forgiven. Women and children in Samoa fall prey on a daily basis to physical and sexual abuse. The perpetrators of such acts should not be accorded forgiveness by law even though they may attempt traditional apologies or acts of forgiveness.

The taxpayers of Samoa should not forgive the administration or people in power who have been abusing their money and corruptly filling their pockets while the people are still awaiting assistance through the projects that are supposed to bring them relief.

Acts which stamp out of corruption, greed, abuse of power and heinous crimes such as rape, sexual assault cannot be forgiven because then this gives the notion that we condone such acts.

Turning the other cheek is a phrase in Christian doctrine from the Sermon on the Mount that refers to responding to insult without retort and allowing more insult. This passage is variously interpreted as accepting one's predicament, commanding nonresistance or advocating Christian pacifism.

However, turning the other cheek and the acts of forgiveness should never be interpreted as silence towards injustice. As a society and a nation which is aiming to prosper, silence towards injustice will become a bigger problem for us while culture and religion may force us to be. What this silence means is that we will allow the corruptors and the guilty to continue doing the wrong they have been doing.

Just last week, a former member of parliament confessed in a YouTube video about sexually abusing women and girls. The victims need to speak out if they want justice. Similarly, there is news that grants to the constituencies may have been subject to abuse, it is the duty of the people to speak out and report such actions.

Young women continue to be victims of sexual abuse in their homes and communities, silence will not break this cycle of abuse and neither will forgiveness.

Forgive when necessary but do not mistake forgiveness for silence towards injustice.

By The Editorial Board 16 January 2023, 6:00AM
Samoa Observer

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