home
RSS
My Take: Casey Anthony and the challenge of forgiveness
July 16th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

My Take: Casey Anthony and the challenge of forgiveness

Editor's Note: Patrick Wanis, Ph.D. is a human behavior and relationship expert and therapist and author of “Finding God – Spiritual Strategies to Help YOU Find Happiness, Fulfillment and Inner Peace."

By Patrick Wanis, Special to CNN

The justice system is designed to prevent, punish and rehabilitate. But with Casey Anthony being acquitted of murdering her 2-year old daughter Caylee, many people are still full of rage and anger toward her, seeking revenge and claiming they want justice for what they continue to believe is her guilt.

But does the anger, revenge and bitterness help bring back Caylee? What positive purpose might it serve? Does Casey Anthony’s case cry out for forgiveness, even if the court found her not guilty of murder?

When we feel injured we respond or react automatically with anger. When someone hurts us, we automatically want to hurt that person back.

Because of the constant media coverage the Anthony trial garnered, many people - particularly mothers and women - felt a personal connection to the case. Their original motivation for justice for Caylee has turned into a desire for revenge.

Casey Anthony's secret release

Anger is not always a negative emotion. When someone is being attacked, you need anger to push you to action to protect the victim. It was anger and frustration that led to revolution in Egypt and that is fueling other uprisings in the Arab world.

In fact, some people have used their anger to lead a petition for “Caylee’s Law,” which would make it a felony to wait more than 48 hours to report a missing child and a felony not to report the death of a child within two hours (though different versions have been proposed in different states).

Casey did not report her missing daughter for 30 days. Such laws may represent a positive use of anger.

But staying stuck in anger, bitterness, vindictiveness or a desire for revenge does not bring about positive results. As a human behavior expert and therapist, the most common denominator of the pain, mental and emotional affliction that I see people suffer is the lack of forgiveness - the anger and pursuit of revenge against mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or self for something that someone did or didn’t do.

There are surely limits to forgiveness, some say. Is Casey Anthony beyond the limit?

The secret life of Casey Anthony

It was the spring of 1944 when 10-year-old Eva Kor, her twin sister Miriam and her mother arrived in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Immediately, guards ripped both girls from their mother and they were never again to see her, their father or their older sisters.

Shortly thereafter, in a sick bay, a doctor told Eva “You have just two weeks to live.” The doctor was Josef Mengele. He had just injected her with a lethal cocktail of bacteria as part of a barbaric experiment with twins.

Eva had a strong immune system and survived but so, too, did the pain of her suffering. Her sister Miriam suffered an inexplicable disease from the injection of poison. Eva later tried to save her sister’s life by donating one of her own kidneys, but Miriam died in 1993.

In January 1995, at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Kor brought along a doctor who worked alongside Josef Mengele. Eva read a confession of guilt from the doctor who accompanied her and then shocked the world press by saying “In my own name, I forgive all Nazis.”

Casey Anthony appeals lying convictions

Eva says forgiveness led to her to inner peace and healing and she has made speeches about forgiveness across the United States in front of school groups and organizations. She teaches that forgiveness freed her from victim status.

“I felt as though an incredibly heavy weight of suffering had been lifted,” she has said. “I never thought I could be so strong… What the victims do does not change what happened. And the best thing about the remedy of forgiveness is that there are no side effects. And everybody can afford it.”

Eva is featured in the Forgiveness Project, an effort that “encourages and empowers people to explore the nature of forgiveness and alternatives to revenge.”

Most world religions promote forgiveness, an eventual end to demanding punishment or restitution. Love, forgiveness and compassion are primary teachings of Jesus.

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” Jesus said on the cross, asking God to forgive the people that were about to kill Him.

Although there are many reasons we hold onto a lack of forgiveness, the pain, anger, revenge and rage only hurt us. But forgiveness sets us free.

Even if Casey Anthony had been found guilty and were to be put to death, would that help Caylee or other living children? Would it truly free us in our hearts? Would our energy not be put to better use if we were to choose to help other children who are at this moment starving, homeless, at risk or in danger?

What if the thousands of angry people devoted that energy to helping mothers and children who have been abused or battered?

Look in your heart and ask yourself what effect the poison of anger and revenge have on you and your life. We have all wronged and we are all imperfect. Of course, murder is not the same as the wrongs that most of us commit.

But if Jesus could ask God to forgive the people that were about to murder him and if a Holocaust survivor could forgive the people that poisoned her and tried to exterminate her family, then what holds you and I back from forgiving anyone? The next time you commit a wrongdoing, won’t you be saying “Please forgive me?”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Patrick Wanis.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Opinion

« Previous entry
soundoff (2,071 Responses)
  1. LibelFreeZone

    Of what must I forgive Casey Anthony? She didn't do anything to me or my family. No apology required, Ms. Anthony. Best wishes going forward. Forget about Nasty DisGrace. She's nothing to you, either.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  2. SoundOfForest

    So many killings within a family. Our modern society is sick. Humanity is sick. Girls must keep purity before marriage and boys should stop entertaining themselves that involves imaginary violence.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  3. truthbetold

    If someone murders there 2 yr old baby and gets away with it, there is no justice. That is a mistake and a miscarriage of justice. Just because 12 people make a bad decision doesn't mean it's not an absurd decision. The system needs to be changed.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • oy vay

      There is no proof. The state did not prove their case, thus she was acquitted. Find something else to spend your energy on in a positive way than flipping out over this. She got her day in court and came out on top.

      The world didn't end, Caylee means no less than she did when she was alive and there is nothing further anyone can do on that. No one knows for sure what happened and it could have been an accident, you and I have no way to know what really happened.

      If the accident was the truth, and she panicked, that does not make her a killer, it makes her a panicked person that made mistakes thinking she'd be in trouble and it only caused her three years of heartache in the end.

      She has to deal with her little daughter being gone for the rest of her life, she won't forget her.

      July 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  4. RightTurnClyde

    X =r kids any age D = when life st,ops. To_day 150 D in a.x.ee.dent.. hund.ed more D in a.xi -dent .. war, sik, strv, how mny u go luny ovr?

    July 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  5. Frogist

    Reading these comments, it sounds like a lynch mob. I feel truly sorry for some of you.

    As for Casey, I think the idea of me forgiving her is a bit much. I have nothing to do with her. I don't know her. I don't know her family. I am not her friend. I am the last person who should be asked to do any forgiving. I think that's an issue for her and her mom and dad and Caylee. I watched the trial like a lot of people but I am not so emotionally invested in her case that I feel the need to round up a lynch mob or hope for her death. I don't wish her any ill will. If anything I wish her the best. She is obviously suffering. She has personal issues. And quite probably IMO the weight of a horrible crime on her shoulders. I can only wish her the best considering what little she has. Caylee never asked for that to happen to her. And I don't see the point of perpetuating the bad feeling by wishing Casey ill. That family has enough to deal with.

    July 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  6. Lycidas

    What forgiveness?? She didn't do anything to me. I am unable to forgive her if she hasn't done anything to me.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      What ? You are NOT a part of society ?

      July 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Has she wronged society in some manner? My part of society has not changed...I doubt yours changed any either.

      The worse person damages is the child. I cannot forgive someone for murder because I do not have the right to and it didn't hurt me personally.

      July 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      U can t use most wrds

      July 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      What ? So we need to hire her mom as the prosecutor, her dad as the cop, her brother as the judge ?

      July 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Bucky- No...of course not. But we are talking from a personal standpoint are we not? From a personal standpoint she does not owe anyone on here anything and therefor we do not owe her any forgiveness.

      As for society...she has been found not guilty. What more do we need?

      July 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  7. warlock

    i'm not sure why everyone is so mad at casey anthony –you don't know her or her child. these things happen all the time. granted what she did was egregious and deserves incarceration, but it's not worth getting emotional about it. geez.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Frogist

      If you shouldn't get emotional about the death or murder of a child, what should you get emotional about?

      July 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  8. CATWOMAN

    I AM SO GLAD CASEY IS FREE .... YES! I SAID IT. WHAT EVER HAPPENED OR DIDN'T HAPPEN IS OVER! SHE WAS FOUND NOT GUILTY BY A JURY OF HER PEERS. WHY ARE YALL MAD AT THE JURY .... ITS NOT LIKE THEY VOLUNTEERED FOR THE TASK. PEOPLE WHO SPEND ALL THEIR TIME AND ENERGY ON THIS HAVE SOME SERIOUS ISSUES. I SEE THE NEWS .... PEOPLE MARCHING WITH HATE SIGNS ...! I AGREE WITH THE NOT GUILTY. IF SHE DID ... AND I DO MEAN IF ... IT WASN'T MALICIOUS. I BELIEVE SHE DID IN FACT LOVE HER DAUGHTER ... IF THAT WASN'T THE CASE ... THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN EVIDENCE OF ABUSE ... SURE SHE WASN'T THE BEST MOTHER AND YES SHE BEHAVED RATHER BADLY.
    A MESSAGE TO CASEY ... LEARN FROM YOUR PAST OR YOU'RE DESTINE TO REPEAT IT. AS FAR AS THESE JERKS THAT THREATEN YOU ... REMEMBER STICK AND STONES ...... ! THEY ARE JUST RANTS FROM PEOPLE WHO FEEL THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO JUDGE AND THEY HONESTLY DON'T. GOD BLESS YOU AND LIVE WELL.
    AND TOO THOSE OF YOU STILL LOOKING FOR JOBS AS ENGLISH TEACHERS ... FEEL FREE TO CORRECT MY GRAMMAR AND SPELLING ... THEN ... GET A LIFE!

    July 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  9. RightTurnClyde

    What we see here is the Roman Collisium 300 AD .. we can stop having trials and throw her into an arena and let it become scarlet. Since nobody values the Bill of Rights any more it will cease to be.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  10. t r m

    I saw Casey in Canada smoking Majiuana with Jimmie Hendrix.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  11. Reality

    Forgive? Maybe. Forget?? Never!!!
    ==============================================

    July 18, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • justme2cents

      Forgiveness? There first must be repentance, right?

      July 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  12. jackie daniels

    Under are law a verdict of not guilty means just that so she got away with murder it happens and now the media is selling, trying to say we should forgive her hey when O.J. got away with murder did we forgive him. Just like the juice got a little of what he shoud have got in the first place so will Casey the streets will deal with her remember i told you all so.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  13. Jackie Wade

    Yes I understand where you are coming from,but it's very hard to forgive someone that hurts a child! They are so innocent and trusting! If she would of told the truth and not so many lies,people might of thought twice! THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE! But now I just hope she truly suffers while she is here on Earth and forever has the image of her child branded in her mind! There are alot of people out there that want to believe she is innocent because "NO PROOF" and that's ok. But I just hope if she did do it she suffer a terrible life knowing what she has done to her baby! Maybe if she admitted doing it and ask people to please forgive her she might be able to live her life! I know I would forgive her,it's just all the lying and blame putting that I can't forgive her now! Not even a care her little girl is gone! It's like oh well,off with my life!

    July 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  14. Bucky Ball

    What does it mean when I say "I forgive you" ? Does it mean I choose to hold an obviously guilty person "blameless" ? Does it mean "I know you are guilty but I choose to ignore it" ? Does it mean "I know you are guilty but choose to account the debt of your guilt as paid? Does it mean "I know you deserve punishment, but I recognize punishing you right now is not practical, so I will give up trying (for now)" ? Does it mean "I know you are legally 'out of reach', and it's better for me to use my time on other things ?" Does it mean "I no longer account you worthy of blame ?" Does it mean "I chose to forget the past and move on with life because there is nothing I can do to change the past ?" Does it mean "Never mind, there was no offense, forget it" ? Does it mean "I believe there exists an ideal state of justice, which you upset, and if you "do" a "sentence" sufficient, (in my mind), to restore that original state, THEN I will account the debt paid, and tell myself 'I am satisfied' and consider the state restored ? Does it mean "Oh ok we can now have a relationship again even though I account you blameworthy" ? Does it mean "The debt remains, I will mourn for a while and then choose to move on"?

    July 18, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  15. William Demuth

    Foergive?

    Well if an ex nazi can be the pope and men who bugger children can be "relocated" to avoid accountability, then I guess someone who murders a child can also be forgiven?

    NOT! Burn her to death in the name of all that is fair and just.

    July 18, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Ally

      Ah, although I want to disagree with you. I can't. Well said.

      July 18, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Lycidas

      Demuth, will you quit lying about the Pope. He was never a Nazi....never. He was required to be in the Nazi Youth because in 1939 it was the law. You had no choice and being in the Nazi Youth at 14 did NOT mean you was in the Nazi party. His family was against Nazism and even one of his uncles was exterminated by the Nazi.

      So how about you go and learn a little history before commenting in the adult boards.

      July 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  16. ROBERT

    No it wont bring CAYLEE BACK but we will make sure the baby killer feels the only JUSTICE THAT WORKS "STREET JUSTICE""

    July 18, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  17. *Joan Marie Smith

    I completely forgive her.because as said "Who am I to caste the first stone". if Jesus the Saviour can forgive all sins then I must imitate this forgiveness. I also have strongly felt there was other involvement in Caylee's untimely demise and that George Anthony will be investigated for the lying cheat that he so obviously is.

    July 18, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  18. Suteyomi

    As long as Casey Anthony keeps trying to escape from telling the truth and being dishonest, I cannot "forgive" her.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  19. Lucy

    Forgiveness. It's such a strong word – similar but not the same as forgive me or I'm sorry. Forgiveness requires so much more. It's not the same as forgive me or I'm sorry. Forgiveness requires us to recognize our guilt or the guilt of someone else. Maybe she did it, maybe she didn't, maybe she did it with the help of family, maybe her family did it and used her to cover it up. Something happened and it seems certain that she knows but in real world reality....She has to be the one to confess her sins and will answer to a higher power – in my case that would be God – and one day she will have to answer to the one person who truly knows her spirit. I don't know for certain that she killed her child – I wasn't there. Its not for me to judge and so my prayers are with Caylee and all those that loved her.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:42 am |
  20. Rhonda Mcguire

    Seriously this only proves to the liars in the world you can get away with murder ! She deserves nothing from me an certainly not my forgiveness Evil person is walking free like many others are some innocent are behind bars tonight like always justice is not always RIGHT ask some who have gotten out after 30 years of being behind bars found guilty an they were not ! I feel sorry for those people but not for those that get off by being a liar an pulling the wool over 12 jurys eyes. 31 days !! no one waits 31 days to report their child missing end of story accident or not she has something to hide that is for sure. Poor Caylee RIP too bad you didnt get to stay with your CC instead of being drug off with your tramp of a mother that night so long ago.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • RightTurnClyde

      There are other approaches. Europeans just presume your are guilty (is that fair?) Administrative panels serve an Admiral or General who decides: firing squad or lashes.Is that fair? Judge Roy Bean just did what he wanted; nobody questioned. You can just drag prisoners out and string them up. Would you do it? Let Nancy Grace decide? Oprah? Letterman? Maybe a traffic cop - just shoot them like Dirty Harry .. what is a better way?

      July 18, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Rightturnclyde Surely the options aren't limited to empowering hanging judges versus accepting everything that our current system spits out as unassailable even in principle.

      July 18, 2011 at 7:57 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53
« Previous entry
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.