I am going to tell you a true story. My friend's friend Tom was brutally beaten in Oakland 6 years ago. He was mugged by three young men, and then beaten by one of them, a "boy" sixteen years old. Even as he was taken to the hospital, he was saying he forgave them. He then went into a coma. Medical recovery has taken six years, and he is still not 100%, but all this time he has been determined to meet with the three, especially the one who beat him, and say he forgives. There is a non-profit organization that arranges reconcilation in events like this. They meet with the victim to hear what he wants and they meet with the one who committed the crime. After counseling and discussion on both sides, the two meet. It was an emotional meeting. They hugged each other, and one apologized, and the other forgave.
It seems the 16 year old lost his parents when he was young. He was sent to live with a grandmother, and then an aunt, who kicked him out when he was 13. He had been living on the streets for three years. He survived by stealing, and bought drugs and alcohol with the money he stole. This was the first time he had so badly beaten someone. He's been in Folsom Prison, is still there, and there, he has had a chance for education and an opportunity to realize what he's done. He is now 22.
These two men are making plans, when the one is out of prison, and the other is well, to go to organizations and groups and tell their story. They want to talk about forgiveness.
Years ago I read a true story about a woman whose son was killed by another young man. She told the killer she would kill him, and then, proceeded to visit him in prison and bring him gifts. He changed with her care and attention. One day he asked her why she was kind to him. She replied that she had done what she said she would do. The man who killed her son was now dead. It gives new meaning to the words "killing someone with kindness".
I don't know that I could be forgive like either of these two people, but I go to bed tonight with the prayer that I could, and prayers for all those who forgive and are forgiven. Certainly this kind of love is the way to peace.