Friday, July 22, 2011

Beyond Revenge

Shortly after writing about revenge yesterday I saw a US television piece on a death row inmate in the state of Texas. In the aftermath of the 911 attacks a decade ago Mark Stroman went on a violent, vengeful rampage during which two men were killed and another was seriously injured because they looked Arab. He didn't know them, nor did he know what their religious convictions were. One of them was actually a Hindu.

Stroman was convicted of murder and sentenced to death but someone worked relentlessly to have that sentence commuted. It is the man he injured, Rais Bhuiyan, who is now blind in one eye and still has shotgun pellets embedded in his face. He went so far as to sue the state to delay the execution. Why? Because as a devout Muslim he believes in forgiveness rather than revenge. He has a blog called World Without Hate on which he offers:

There are three reasons I feel this way. The first is because of what I learned from my parents. They raised me with the religious principle that he is best who can forgive easily. The second reason is because of what I believe as a Muslim, which is that human lives are precious and that no one has the right to take another human’s life. In my faith, forgiveness is the best policy and Islam doesn’t allow for hate and killing. And, finally, I seek solace for the wives and children of Mr. Hasan and Mr. Patel, who are also victims in this tragedy. Executing Stroman is not what they want, either. They have already suffered so much; it will only cause more suffering if he is executed.
As Christians we have a particular approach to forgiveness which goes through the cross, but we don't have a corner on it. As I have pointed out before, forgiveness in some form is encouraged in all major religions. This situation points out how true this is.

Mark Stroman is dead, executed on Wednesday. Amongst his last words were:"Hate is going on in this world and it has to stop.Hate causes a lifetime of pain."

Have you heard about Bhuiyan and Stroman? What was your reaction?


Anonymous said...

As soon as I read this I went around to some people here at camp and told them the story. We were in our "Spirit" session and talking about the ten/two commandments. When I told my co-worker Laurel her face lit up in a way that I'd never seen and she was amazed that someone could be so forgiving and faithfull. I think this is a story that many people of faith should read to understand its concepts.

IanD said...

Intensely surprising, to say the least!