Forgiveness for the unrepentant
It is one thing to have forgiveness in one’s heart for tormentors and abusers, even for the most hardened and unrepentant, and, in silence, lift one’s pain to the heavens—something victims can do for themselves to exorcise the pain. But it is quite another to bestow honors on the hardened and unrepentant, allow them to reopen wounds and mock the victims of their unspeakable crimes—and expect the victims to call it forgiveness, or moving on.
To those who, with good intentions, admonish the victims to forgive because that is choosing the better part, I say: That is indeed godly. But it is quite insensitive to say “Forgive” or “Move on” while watching the unrepentant deny their culpability, spit at the wounds of victims and claim honors for a tyrant and plunderer. Does forgiveness mean allowing the uncontrite to strut about with impunity while the wounded nurse their reopened wounds?
Think what it is like to have one’s wound reopened and rubbed with salt, vinegar (sukang Iloko) and the hottest chili pepper.
To those who preach forgiveness from the goodness of their souls, I will not snarl at you, but please find it in your hearts to see things from the side of those who suffered extreme pain during the Marcos dictatorship. This is not about forgiveness of sins, this is about justice. Please do not talk about moving on and letting go because many victims of the Marcos dictatorship have indeed done that, while proudly bearing the scars, even the unhealed wounds, of yesteryears. But allowing the unrepentant beneficiaries of the Marcos loot to dig at the victims’ pain and sneakily bury the dictator in hallowed grounds with honors—does allowing this constitute forgiveness?
Hateful and unforgiving—this is how victims of Marcos tyranny are labeled by those who wish to shut them up. But why turn the tables on the victims? Why demonize those who truly suffered and knew what it was like to take the blows, to be made to sit on blocks of ice, to be made to drink urine and eat feces, to go through water torture and bear the unnamable pain of loss for the disappearance of loved ones or finding their mutilated remains? Why portray as vengeful those whose rights were trampled upon and whose properties were taken away?
But how do you call those who wish to revise history by honoring the dishonored former soldier and president? How do you forgive an unrepentant family whose members continue to flaunt their impunity?
Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do—is this the prayer we want victims to say to their offenders every time their rights are trampled? Why should we expect so much from the victims but not from the uncontrite victimizers and their cheering squad?
And then there are those who say, “That happened more than 30 years ago, let history be the judge.”
Precisely! We are now in that historical future and judgement is due. If it is not now, when in the future? A thousand years from now?
There are those who sneer and say, “Well, the victims went to the Supreme Court, and now that the Supreme Court has spoken, they complain and protest?”
When the victims went to the Supreme Court, they were called petitioners. They pleaded that their side be heard, that the honorable justices see the justness of their plea. They did not go there to simply seek an opinion, as in “Tell us, is this red or green?” and whatever is handed down should be good enough. No.
And so the weeping and gnashing of teeth, the raising of fists, the howling in the streets.
“Not yet, Rizal, not yet,” the poet
Rafael Zulueta da Costa’s cry pierces the darkening sky, “the land has need of young blood…”
Many millennials—those who knew little about the atrocities committed under martial rule—are now eager to know the truth from their elders. And having known, they do not want a repeat now and in the future. Hear them roar.
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