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My Take: If Rwandans can forgive killings, we can forgive the waitress
Innocent, left, is a Rwandan who murdered five people, including the brother of Gespard, right.
November 7th, 2011
12:13 PM ET

My Take: If Rwandans can forgive killings, we can forgive the waitress

Editor’s note: Jeremy Cowart is a Los Angeles-based celebrity portrait photographer and founder of Help-Portrait, a global movement of photographers giving free portraits to those in need. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

By Jeremy Cowart, Special to CNN

Would you forgive the bully that tripped you in 3rd grade? What about the terrible service from that lazy waitress? Or the guy who cut you off on the interstate?

What about the man who murdered your children? If he asked you for forgiveness, would you grant it? Would you agree to spend time with him – maybe one day call him your friend?

That's what some in Rwanda are doing: Forgiving and reconciling with murderers who killed their children, friends, siblings and parents during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

See Cowart's Rwanda series on CNN Photos.

I recently met some of them face-to-face.

My journey to them began a year ago, when I attended a conference for young Christians called Catalyst. A filmmaker named Laura Waters Hinson presented her documentary "As We Forgive," about a pair of Rwandan women on a journey to reconcile with the men who slaughtered their families.

The 1994 genocide had seen tens of thousands of Rwandan Hutus, provoked by extremist propaganda, kill roughly 800,000 Tutsi neighbors. Hinson had been showing her film across Rwanda to encourage reconciliation in schools, churches and villages.

After she spoke, I presented "Voices of Haiti," a series of photos I captured in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

At the conference, Hinson and I discussed combining our projects into a "Voices of Reconciliation" photo series. We wanted Rwandans to have an opportunity to make their own statements to the world. Nine months later, I was in Rwanda, working with Hinson and her team.

I grew up in the church and am a practicing Christian. I've heard "love your neighbor" and "forgive others because God forgave you" my entire life. But I don't recall my church ever discussing the idea of forgiving killers.

Our culture certainly doesn't promote the idea. The terms we discuss are "death penalty" vs. "life sentence." We expect full justice at every turn.

No one ever goes so far as to say, "You know, you might consider forgiving the guy that killed your dad." And who would suggest building a relationship with the murderer?

But what if we did forgive because "God forgave us?" Christians believe that God offers forgiveness to the worst of humanity. God, via the death of Jesus, traded places with humanity, bearing the punishment for sin that everyone else deserved. For Rwandans, it’s this theological principle that’s enabling a growing phenomenon of radical forgiveness.

Let's put beliefs aside. What if our entire culture - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, whatever - forgave everyone,  even our worst enemies?

What if we generously tipped our waitress after terrible service? What if we stopped counting the wrongs of our spouse and gave them a clean slate? What if we forgave the uncle who sexually abused us as a child?

From what I witnessed in Rwanda, this kind of radical grace is possible. While incredibly difficult to accomplish - especially if the offender has not admitted their wrong and asked for forgiveness, it’s a force that has the power to tear down walls and free hearts.

Hinson, whose film led to the creation of a Rwandan reconciliation organization, says that “some Rwandans liken unforgiveness to the experience of having acid eat you from the inside out. Others describe it like being trapped in a prison of hatred.”

“For the victims,” she says, “forgiving their offenders is a way of setting themselves free from the chains of anger and bitterness.”

On the other hand, I was struck by meeting many perpetrators whose burden of guilt seemed to weigh almost as heavily on them as the victims’ burden of pain. Forgiveness released both ends of the burden. It is perhaps the greatest thing I'll ever see in my lifetime.

The guys in the photo above wrote a message on their arms: "Love is the weapon that destroys all evil.”

It's hard to believe that the man named Innocent, left, murdered five people, including the brother of Gespard, right. They are standing on the site of the executions.

After serving a few years in prison, Innocent was released upon confessing to his crimes. He begged Gespard for forgiveness during a reconciliation workshop sponsored by the As We Forgive Rwanda Initiative.

Like many Rwandans, these men participated in a reconciliation process that involved months of workshops, along with praying and doing agricultural work together, part of an ingenious effort to encourage reconciliation and alleviate poverty at the same time.

Today, Innocent and Gespard count each other as friends.

Other messages that survivors and perpetrators wrote on their signs are "Brothers in Forgiveness," "Truth restores trust" and "We restored our humanity."

Maybe we start small and decide to forgive the waitress, no matter what. Maybe if we begin with small acts of grace, we could one day find ourselves practicing radical grace and restoring humanity, too.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jeremy Cowart. Cowart's and Hinson's work in Rwanda was funded by a grant from the SEVEN Fund, an organization that promotes enterprise solutions to poverty.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Opinion • Rwanda • Violence

soundoff (442 Responses)
  1. pat carr

    Maybe forgiveness is possible, but at the same time punishment and justice must also be served. otherwise the forgiveness of a murderer cheapens the life of the murdered. Funny that the name of the man on the left is "innocent".

    November 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Yeah! Just like all those forgiving Pope Innocents!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I don't know if you can cheapen the life of someone; the inherent value of life would seem unconnected to va.garies of what is done to it. However, in the analogy of the waitress, which may not be the best analogy, tipping for bad service would seem to cheapen the value of good service. Why provide good service if there is no distinction between good and bad service?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • mike

      Part of the problem is how we think about forgiveness and justice. It is Justice to see someone pay for their sins, but the point of Forgiveness is to forego Justice. Justice is what is fair and deserved, but Forgiveness is what is righteous... Forgiveness is love overcoming our need for Justice. So forgiving a murderer doesn't cheapen the life of the slain by foregoing justice... rather, it gives the life of the murdered further meaning by using it to reach out to the murderer in love, possibly changing him or her life forever. That is the very essence of forgiveness, of love, and why, as the message written on the brothers' arms above says, "Love is the weapon which destroys all evil."

      True, the murderer may not change. They may go out and kill again. But rare is the person who, seeing you in the pain and torment of losing your loved ones, would not be moved to change by you setting that aside to show them love instead.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • karync

      I think the value of a life is already determined by the life of that individual, but i do agree that justice should be carried out. As the article described, the man on the left was punished. But who is to say if that punishment was enough? In the sense of this article, the author says that just experiencing the pain that you have caused in killing is a powerful way to feel punished, and hopefully a good way for someone to realize they should not kill, for it hurts more than the murdered victim. I feel like there is no better way for punishment than to be judged by the loved ones of the victim, and in this case, the judgement just isnt so harsh.

      December 12, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  2. Thelma

    Powerful article. I believe forgiveness is the key to moving forward in any situation. I believe forgiveness is empowering.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Hey! I know you dude! You killed my wife and 10 year old daughter. They were everything to me, the light of my life, the only thing I lived for. My life is now misery, grief and suffering. Oh well, what the hell. Let's go kick the soccer ball around! Fun!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • hippypoet

      Alien, did you know that during christmas WW2 or maybe even ww1 i can;t remember, the two sides stopped killing eachother and played a game of soccer.... true story!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • yooo

      can someone tell me how to forgive? i have alot of people that i always seem to get frustrated over when i think about how they have affected my life.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Hippy, I can always count on you for a nugget of wisdom. I got your back if anyone tries to kill you my friend!

      November 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • karync

      Alien, i belive youre missing the whole powerful part of the article which is about forgiveness in a nearly unforgivable situation. Sarcasm does somewhat get the point across that most people would never forgive someone for a crime so incredible. But, this is the point that the author is trying to make that the people in Rwanda who are forgiving others are very strong to be able to forgive and forget.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • karync

      Hippy, I like your reference to a true story, although youre not sure which war it was. The christmas truce happened in WW1 with the exchanging of gifts and cigarettes. Your point was a valid one, although maybe a little research beforehand could have made it better. This was a very good example of forgiveness especially because this was a particularly bloody display of trench warfare, and may be comparable to the genocide in Rwanda.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  3. Nonimus

    Not that I disagree necessarily, but what happens when the forgiven continue to commit atrocities? Do those who forgave the perpetrator and released them then have complicity in future crimes?

    November 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Sean

      In that case (in my opinion), they shouldn't be forgivin, I believe (and I may be way off here), you should only forgive it someone is truly sorry. If they deny that what they did was wrong or have the capacity to do it again, then they aren't worthy of forgivness. True Forgivness should be earned not handed out like change.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @sean,
      That's a valid point, but then how do you forgive anyone? Not being able to know the mind of another, there is always the possibility that they will repeat their crimes in the future.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • karync

      Sean, I agree that someone who does not admit to the wrong they have done does not deserve forgiveness. This should be nessecary of one who is at fault for a death, and in this case i believe part of the forgiving process is first admitting the wrong theyve commited. In the article he stated that 'innocent' was in jail untill he admitted his crimes, then he could move on to try to earn the forgiveness of the family member. On the other side, being capable of commiting a crime again cannot be determined and therefore is not a valid point because we cannot only assume that the guilt or punishment was enough to sway the murderer.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  4. Jouko

    It works both ways. In an unstable nation like Rwanda they may be able to become friends with their family's killer more easily than we would, but in the past they also became the killer of their friend's family more easily than we would have.

    So instead of striving to forgive our waitresses, let's just continue to not kill her and we'll continue to do a lot better than Rwanda as a country.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Sean

      I vow to not kill my waitress when she effs up my order, or when I find a catepiller in my salad, or when I get my salad after my entre, and then get mad at me for not specifying that I wanted my salad BEFORE my entre.

      BUT FORGIVE HER?? YOU MUST BE CRAZY!!!!! (that last comment is sarcasm, lol)

      November 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • General Lee Specific

      Jouko, that's pretty misguided. Unstable nations do not make for unstable people. Rwandans do not regularly kill bad waitresses any more often than Americans do. Also, our murder rate is pretty atrocious compared to many other nations, so our way of dealing with it may not be all that ideal either.

      November 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  5. hippypoet

    yooo

    hippy, this article is about forgiving people. you are making posts like if you kill my mom i will kill you. yea, i understand, most people would too, but its just out of place to post something like that here. then you are talking about not tipping waiters and waitresses because you are teaching them a lesson? it sounds more like you dont have the money to tip them and therefore they suffer.

    if that was the case, i would totally just chew and screw / dine and dash ....but i don't, and my wife seems to be the moral center for me – she will leave a bigger tip then i would even if the waiter was great. Is it wrong of me to want people to use there minds instead of there body to do work...to get paid...to make a living? I THINK NOT, but to each his own.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • yooo

      hippy, i forgive you for your selffishness and stupidity.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i need not your forgiviness and i am far from stupid...i only seek fairness in all things, and to understand as much as i can. Giving something for nothing i will always have an issue with. please instead of insult , discuss – or is that beyond you?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • yooo

      have you ever heard the quote "Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

      November 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • yooo

      that was question, i left out the question mark.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • hippypoet

      you do realize that your the one who is insulting and being rude right? i was asking to compare ideas and discuss on a civil level to better understand your point of view...but i think you are correct, best not to argue with an idiot. I leave you be.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • yooo

      this conversation is done for. have a nice life hippy, seriously :).

      November 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  6. Christian Faith

    This is an amazing and inspiring story, indeed, worthy of our consideration. Certainly, forgiveness cultivates and produces good will between people and spreads peace and cooperation where hatred and division otherwise dominate the hearts of men and women everywhere. Without forgiveness, we become less compassionate, and and lose the most vital part of our ability to be humane towards our fellow man. Forgiveness truly is the ripple in the pond of life that travels ever outward, and touches many lives beyond it.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      A lovely sentiment CF
      Question, why does God allow these atrocities to go on, and continue to go on. Is God not all powerful? Does God revel in the suffering and grief?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • stars

      @alien orifice: God is judgment, also. And people have free will. That is why bad things happen

      November 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @stars
      350,000 American children have cancer because they have free will?

      November 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  7. Jenna NYC

    It is important for your karma, your soul, to forgive. It is the only way there could be peace on earth. God said "vengeance is mine"...let go of harms, hurts, even terrible deeds against you and let God handle it. Your soul will be lighter for it.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      That is a lovely fairy tale Jenna. Thank you.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bob

      Jenna, pass the karma. You've had a long toke on it.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Jenna NYC,
      Is not Shiva the god of both creation and destruction? I'm not sure Karma is such a clear-cut, good or bad, concept.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Logic

    I don't think anyone here could possibly fathom what these people have gone through, myself included.

    But our country already had a period of forgiveness similar to what we are seeing here – the post-civil war era.

    You don't see people running trying to avenge their ancestors who were killed by the confederates, nor do you see southerners trying to avenge their fallen generals.

    Are some still bitter about the conflict? certainly. That will likely linger for centuries to come since the hatred is passed down from generation to generation (celebrating the confederacy for instance). But for the most part our country moved on. We had two periods of war fought among ourselves in the history of the U.S. The revolutionary war was fought among families. Neighbors turned into opposing armies. Loyalists vs Revolutionaries. Then again in the civil war, battle lines were drawn across the nation and still we live among each other today in relative peace.

    The fact that these people can already begin to forgive a horrific genocide is incredible. It's inspiring and demonstrates a higher understanding of the value of human life.

    Again I'm not saying I myself would be able to reach the same conclusion as these amazing individuals have. I don't think any of us could know unless we were thrown into a situation where an entire country was split in two, with one half killing the other. It's very different from an individual murdering a loved one, or a personal vendetta against someone you know.

    I applaud these people, and I hope the healing of their nation continues, as they still have a long way to go.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      Good point about the Civil War.

      It is maybe way off to compare the horrible actions of a basically good person in an extreme Time and Place, like those of a civilian during war, with those of a basically evil person, like a serial killer or child rapist.

      People posting here are sour on the forgiveness theme maybe b/c it is manipulated and abused to repress us.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  9. Abu Yusuf

    It is true that forgiveness is right next after the highest level of morality i.e. doing good for someone who harmed you, but human beings have different natures and not everyone will forgive. The least we can do is establish justice, which is the lowest level of morality. As long as there is justice, there will be peace. You cannot kill innocent Muslims, their children and families and strip them off of their basic human rights and expect love and forgivenes from them. Just like we love to sit down and have dinner with our children and see them smiling, so do they.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  10. Skips

    I don't think justice and forgiveness are necessarily linked

    November 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      I like your comment.

      I see the 'Forgiveness Card' played in US courts all the time, like somehow wanting a murderer, rapist, otherwise dangerous person to be away from society -and wanting Justice for their victim makes you a bad Christian, bad person. The 2 aren't mutually exclusive.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  11. Snoopy

    What is that saying?

    REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED TEN-FOLD.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Dave G

      Revenge is a dish best served not at all.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      Dave G -who are you to say how victims should react?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • General Lee Specific

      Hilo, you are aware of what revenge usually causes right? More revenge the other way. And then back. And then back again. I'm for ending the cycle, are you?

      November 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Hilo, HI

      General, Why?
      Your self-rightous 'taking the higher road' stance is well afforded by ppl living in Ivory Towers, but it is also a slap in the face to so many more.

      I'm not even convinced revenge is such a bad thing.

      Who knows, the world may well be entirely free of child abusers once and for all if modern society wasn't so obsessed with masking an unwillingness and inability to take action (exact 'revenge') with a superior sense of 'forgiveness'.

      So easy to quip about forgiving waitresses and parking-spot swipers. Now, you go tell a Holocaust survivor to stop hunting down them Nazis -or when they find one, you can tell them to 'Let go and Let G~d, just like You would do.....-yeah, right.

      November 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  12. brianh

    Only a true Christian who has experienced the undeserved grace of a holy God in forgiving his own incalculable sins could forgive another in this way.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • HellBent

      Such arrogance. No diety is required to forgive another.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      brianh,
      What is a "true" Christian? How can sins be incalculatable and what is a sin exactly? Thanks.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Duce

      False!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • jernau

      No offense but that's rather presumptuous. The belief that morality is exclusive to Theists is mistaken. I don't question that Theists could forgive in this way. I just expect the same degree of respect for non-theists.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Logic

      no....fairy tales are not necessary

      November 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • wayne317

      This is one of the main reason i reject your religion. Nobody has the ability to forgive but Christians? Give me a break.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • TruthSeeker

      Christianity is not a prerequisite for forgiveness. Not every Christian forgives, and not all people who forgive are Christian. I fail to understand how you could be so arrogant in your faith so as to be blind to this fact.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by brianh is a form of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

      November 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Nonimus

      If the Christian God cannot forgive an honest lack of belief, then perhaps He doesn't deserve the belief in the first place.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • brianh

      @Alien Orifice – A true Christian has turned from or repented of all that dishonors God and has put his trust in Jesus Christ as the only way to be forgiven or made right with God. He accepts by faith Jesus taking his sin in his place and receiving the just penalty from God in his place by Jesus dying on cross for him. He receives God's forgiveness of his sin based on Jesus' perfect sinless offering for him in his stead, Jesus' work alone – nothing he can do to earn God's favor, but relies only on the merit of Christ's work. He in fact receives acceptance with God based on Christ's righteousness which is imputed or given to him. Sin is anything that dishonors God or fails to worship him for who he actually is.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      brianh
      What evidence do you have to support this?

      November 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bob

      So, brianh, have you kiiled and burned your firstborn goat today, as the bible demands of a true Christian? Remember, your Jeebus said the laws of the OT still bind you.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • brianh

      We need to receive what God says in his word. "If you confess with your moth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved, for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Romans 10:9-10

      November 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      brianh
      I am afraid you misunderstand. I am asking you about fact, not fiction. The Bible is not truth. My question to you was what proof do you have. Proof brianh. For example, there is clear scientific PROOF that the dead do not rise and walk among the living.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • brianh

      Alien Orifice – re. evidence:
      http://www.gracechurchministry.org/sermons/coming/coming-17.mp3

      November 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      brianh
      Ok now wait a minute. You want me to listen to a sermon? And the sermon is, I assume, based on the Bible whcih I have already told you is not truth. So what in the world would the point in that be? Don't you have any thoughts in your OWN head or do you only believe with you hear in Sermons? Also, don't send URL's. I am not going to go to that site and get a virus for crying out loud. I have really tried to open a discussion with you and are sending me MP3's.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • brianh

      For anyone interested in listening, this MP3 has evidence for the resurrection:
      Who Can Judge the Resurrection?

      November 8, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • karync

      The question of wether humanity was created by God is another debate. But, i do disagree with your statement because it was not becasue they are Christians that they are able to forgive for something so atrocious. Who knows what religious affiliation they are? It is by their own humanity and free will that they forgive others in this way. Although in this article, God is quoted for his forgiveness, it is not confirmed that God is the reason why they are capable of this type of forgiveness.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  13. BlackDynamiteNYC

    I'd forgive him right after I smoked that @$$!
    BD

    November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      And then I would forgive you. NOW we are in the forgiving spirit.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  14. todd in DC

    God's too busy sending natural disasters to states that are granting marriage equity to be dealing wtih Africa much these days.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • msladydeborah

      ?????

      November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      msladydeborah
      What don't you understand. The Lord God is very interested in each and everyone of our lives and he cares very much about who we marry and if you say bad words and if you are a Christian or a Muslim, etc. He is very busy in the U.S. right now bringing is wrath down on us sinners. Give him a break!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  15. Lupe Fiasco

    How do you forgive the murderer of your father?

    The ink of a scholar is worth a thousand times more, than the blood of a martyr.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • yooo

      that song is the shiiiii

      November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  16. Alien Orifice

    Touch my kids, your dead.

    As far as tipping? I always tip 15% no matter what, but I will tip more if they go above and beyond. I will however complain to management when I am unhappy with the service and then no longer go to that establishment and I will spread the word of mouth to others. Hit the owner in the wallet. The wait person won't be there long.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Logic

      you're

      November 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • todd in DC

      You may want to rethink that when your kids start dating.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Logic
      Kindly don't correct my spelling and grammar. If that is all you have to add then you are an A-ss Hole. This is a blog. People type fast. There is no spell checker. You make mistakes too. Fuk off.

      Todd – LOL you have a point there my friend.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  17. CollegeGirl

    Forgive? Yes, but never would be friends would someone who killed a family members.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • hippypoet

      you could kill my father, step-mother, brother and sister and i might be your friend....but don't think i will even play with the thought of being friends if you kill my mother, wife, or kids – if you touch them... i will kill you, no matter how or when....you will die!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Neal Kelley

      Forgiveness is exactly that... complete and absolute forgiveness with no strings attached. It is difficult.. but if it is truly accomplished it elevates your anguish and unlocks the prison of suffering in each person involved in the act ( victim and perpetrator).

      November 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  18. Keksi

    Americans haven't still forgiven Iranians for overthrowing shah in 1979.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Brian.

      To be honest we could care less about the Shah....Iranian people are fine but their leaders suck...

      November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  19. J.W

    I can forgive a waitress for terrible service but that doesnt mean Im gonna tip her.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i don't tip as a general rule unless they go above and beyond the call of service. And the argument that they get paid crap and live off the tips is too bad, pick a different job then... I know plenty of ugly hoo-kers and dancers – JoeProfet's mom and sister and boyfriend are all dancers and if the money is right hoo-kers too! true story.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @hippy

      Boooooooo. You should tip your waiters and waitresses, that's the nature of the job and a lot of the time its the only place willing to hire them. Think of it as paying them commission if you like but you should really tip, it's the expected custom in our country, not to mention if you frequent a place and don't tip every time soon you're going to have a sandwhich heavy on the spit.

      Little known proverb, "Don't fu.ck with the people who serve you your food"

      November 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • hippypoet

      sry chuckles – i agree with nearly everything you post but here i have to disagree with you. i have lived dirt poor and i made it... there is little hope in this world if people depend on others for anything... by paying for my over priced food and no tipping i may teach them thats its better to go back to school and get a better job.... This is the world's smallest violin and its playing just for them.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • yooo

      hippy i dont think you should be trying to teach anybody anything.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • hippypoet

      yooo, why not. I am beyond wise and have studied a great many things.... i am very well read, i have been outside my own country many times – once was to live in africa for 6 months. i would be a great teacher. what makes you think i wouldn't be?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Hippy

      There's nothing wrong about depending on people for things, but this isn't one of those times. It's American custom and all you're doing is hurting waiters and waitresses who have done nothing but provide a service that expects tip. A lot of the waiters and waitresses are also using the job as a wait to support themselves through school. I always tip 20% unless is above and beyond service (25%) or poor service (15%) and atroci.ous service (10% – 0%). Just keep in mind that your no tip.ping policy just pis.ses people off and teaches no one a less and keeps an extra dollar in your wal.let.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • K.L.

      @hippypoet
      If everyone didn't tip like you, you think people would work as a waiter? You're just using a sad pathetic reason to not pay tip. About 2.2 million people are employed as servers in this country. 14 million are unemployed in this country currently and you want to add another 2 million? What if you couldn't find another job and the only one you could find is a waiting job, would you accept everyone's prerogative to not tip because you should be working another job?

      You take waiting service for granted because thats the difference between McDonald's and a restaurant. Go ahead, bring your date to McDonalds, see if you get another one. And tip isn't necessary but it is customary & traditional in this country, don't have pride of an American when you follow non tipping traditions of an Asian country because then you're not American.

      You don't want to tip? Eat at home, take it home, go to McDonalds but please don't use stupid cheap excuses like they can find another job else where cause the truth of the matter is there is 14 other million that can't find jobs.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Emily

      This is a beautiful story of what real faith and reconciliation is all about. I'm sad to see that most of the comments have shown that this concept is not something we have learned to grasp in the U.S. We would all do well to put that quote into action.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • yooo

      hippy, this article is about forgiving people. you are making posts like if you kill my mom i will kill you. yea, i understand, most people would too, but its just out of place to post something like that here. then you are talking about not tipping waiters and waitresses because you are teaching them a lesson? it sounds more like you dont have the money to tip them and therefore they suffer.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • hippypoet

      look, if a tip, which is a sign of saying thanks for the good job, is expected then that person is setting themselves up for dissappointment...

      i have a rather famous saying amoungst my friends and family – expectations breed dissappointments... have no expectations and live life free of worry of dissappointments.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Hippy

      In the restuarant industry, a tip does not signify "thanks for the service" it's actually more a way to grade the service provided. There are two threads to this though. One is, if you never tip (except occasionally for outstanding service) are you in effect meaning to convey that you don't appreciate the service? Two, when you leave no tip, you are basically telling that person to fu.ck off, now how would you like it if the large majority of people understand that tipping is customary and a part of going out to eat, you're dead tired after doing homework and having worked a shift at some other place and you serve a patron who gets everything, has no complaints and then when he leaves leaves a bill that in effect is a big middle finger. Is that really fair?

      This thread also, unlike faith that people believe is immovable and can not be changed from reading a thread on a blog, I will make it my mission to convert you into a tipper and respecting your fellow service employees

      November 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • stars

      Good analogy! I could MAYBE forgive someone who killed a family member, only for my own sanity. But I would NEVER forget, and I sure won't befriend you!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • hippypoet

      Definition of gratuity (noun)
      form plural: gratuities
      tip; bonus; recompense

      Do i get bonus food if i give a bonus to add to the bill? if not then why should they get a bonus? Perphaps i should just always lie and claim it to be my b-day that way i get a bonus meal and then i shall tip. Being that is completely fair. All you people are preaching something for nothing and i just don't play that game!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Hippy

      It isn't something for nothing though, they are providing you with the service, and presumably if they don't have serious errors, they're providing you that service for crap pay that is supposed to factor in a tip in which they can grade themselves on their service. This is different than say, the tip jar at the front of the register that askes for tips. I never throw a tip in those (unless its to get rid of loose change that I don't want jingling in my pocket) because they're doing their job behind the register, getting paid a regular wage and aren't doing anything that requires a tip unlike waiting. You should really reconsider your tipping policy for a number of reasons.

      1. Help someone out every once and while, a tip does wonders for your karma
      2. It's custom, tip for the same reason that you always take the opposite urinal and not the middle if one side is in use, or covering your heart during the national anthem, etc..., be an american,
      3. If you like your food spit free or you don't mind going to different restaurants and never frequent a specific place more than a couple of times, then by all means, don't tip, however if you don't like spit, or dirt or any other number of gross stuff in your food, you might want to reconsider your policy.

      You might hate that its custom and try to go against the grain, but honestly if you really feel so strongly about not tipping,go to congress and start a rally to raise the minimum wage of waiters and waitresses to minimum wage and abolish the idea of tipping. I'm sure you would find supporters.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • TheTruthFairy

      Number one reason to leave some sort of tip.
      "3. If you like your food spit free or you don't mind going to different restaurants and never frequent a specific place more than a couple of times, then by all means, don't tip, however if you don't like spit, or dirt or any other number of gross stuff in your food, you might want to reconsider your policy."
      As sad as it may be, this stuff does happen.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • hippypoet

      yes the system sucks – its sucks for me too but i don't get tipped at work... should i tip outta of fear of spit, dirt, bad food? I am a very understandable person, if you are in need of help and i am there, i will help you... if you need food – i have been there, i will help you ... if you have a job that pays you sh!t you don't need help, you need a better job! If the policy of waiters is to be only good enough to get a tip then what i am really tipping for? I am then an enabler of slacker types. I have been thru this convo many times while out to eat with family and friends.... i always lose but i will forever stand firm with my beliefs that if you work and work damn hard then you are deserving of a tip – but is money what you are after, because i have wisdom that will carry you much further – would that be ok to give rather then the dollar? If not, then they clearly need more money and should seek out a better job – i was a waiter and i stood by my beliefs then as well...granted i didn't tell the custumers that. 🙂

      November 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Hippy

      The real issue is, what consti.tutes as great service to get a tip from you and would you find it reasonable for that person to always provide that great service 100% of the time in order to get that tip? I don't think any waiter or waiteress would deny that they need a better job than the one they currently have, why is it up to you to drive that point home by hitting them in their wallets? Like I've stated a couple of times, you're tipping to grade them on service, not tipping them because they deserve it or not. If they were really horrible and deserve no tip, than don't tip them, but if they get your order correct, bring you your food after a reasonable amount of time, make sure you're good on drinks and generally contentment with the meal and make sure they pay attention to you, why would they NOT deserve some sort of tip for their service? Keep in mind, there aren't many other jobs (including yours and mine) that require you to wait on someone hand and foot and your boss agreeing to pay you far below minimum wage so the work you are doing is mostly commission based.

      I'm also shocked that A) you've worked in the service industry and still feel this way and B) felt this way while you were working as a waiter and still accepted tips. If you truely think those tips are wrong because you didn't administer outstanding service 100% of the time and still receieved money for it, then return the money you got.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • hippypoet

      see, this is way i have always lost this convo – i never returned my tips... i saw it as a gift above my job from the customer... and its rude to give gifts back! lol... I never gave poor service or did something bad to a persons food out of respect and that fact that i treat others how i wish to be treated... I wouldn't have cared if i got the tip or not – it only would have lessened the time it took me to ask my boss for a raise, the answer – no, my answer – later bud. We all have choices, and it was theres to get a job knowing what the pay was – and it is fuked that they pay less then 5 dollars an hr to serve people who generally suck at life! But its the job they choose to work!

      And like i said – would a tip be better served as a piece of wisdom rather then cash? I have a great many of ancient proverbs just itching to get out!
      the old and famous – don't eat yellow snow is always accecptable! But yet money is wants wanted...not wisdom, not intelligence....not anything but money – they are whors, just not willing to dance! IF someone offered me true wisdom over money, i would jump at that...see, whenever i have money i suddenly don't! But wisdom is forever...unless i forget to write it down!

      November 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Hippy

      "choice" of job really doesn't have anything to do with it. If someone is looking for a steady paycheck and the only place that will hire them is a waiter or waitressing job, that's the same sort of choice has the believers get from god, not really a choice at all even if you labor under the delusion its a choice. As for giving out pearls of wisom, those are free and can be found any time, I go to work to get a paycheck, not a snappy one-liner. I can understand that wisdom has value, but if you believe what you said, then you should demand to be paid in wisdom instead of money.

      You didn't really answer my question above though, what is exceptional service and why does that deserve a tip when good service (order is right, server was appropriate and brought the food/cleared plates at a good pace, refilled drinks when needed, etc...) does not?

      Also keep in mind a lot of the people who take the job as waiter/waiteress know that it pays under minimum wage, but also that the majority of customers are going to leave a tip. They didn't take the job HOPING for a tip, that's what's part of the allure of waiting, is that tips are not taxed and they can get it after a days work. I at least urge you to start tipping service that is acceptable and not just phenomanal, or if you really are set in not tipping, then demand pay in wisdom instead of money, I mean, treat others as you want to be treated right?

      November 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Chuckles

      P.S. The irony isn't lost on me that I (who have never held a job as a waiter or a busboy) am arguing in favor of tips whereas you (having worked as a waiter before) is arguing in favor of the european style of no tipping.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • J.W

      What I meant is that personally if they do a really bad job I won't tip them. If they do a decent job I will tip the %15 and a really good job I will do more. I think you should tip what you think they deserve.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • hippypoet

      so whats my idea of tip-able service....drinks shortly after ordering, pickers before the meal, and not 5 minutes before – if our food is done early ask our thoughts on to bring it over or to wait a few minutes, make sure the food is good very shortly after bringing it, watch for empty drinks, if there is kids – pander to them, if the kids like you your golden – and finally...as the waiter, thank the customer for coming not only to your resturant, but your booth – even thou the hostess sat them there it looks good. with all of that in play the waiter must be happy or at least fake a smile – anger, well any type of negitive att!tude is as contangous as a cold. Smiles are contangous but not as bad – not sure why. And i have asked my boss many times if i could be paid in either food, drink, car, money is less important to me then what i will spent it on.... i find asking for wisdom gets on peoples bad side because i think they think i am calling them dumb. I know i would never ask my father to be paid in wisdom – he has very little!

      November 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @hippy

      You'll know this better than me, but doesn't that seem like a tall order from a person working a long day to really do all that? I mean, I think that's great service and deserves a great tip, but are you telling me that if a person fails to do one of those tasks, or does it without a fake grin they will receive 0% tip? That seems pretty unfair to me.

      As for being paid in food, drink, or car....that's still money in a different form. If you really believe that money isn't that important, then demand to be paid in something you could get for free. I understand that's a silly request, but then again if you really think that being paid in money is any different than anything else that costs money, you might want to rethink that statement for a moment.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Dave

      "look, if a tip, which is a sign of saying thanks for the good job, is expected then that person is setting themselves up for dissappointment..."

      I understand the theory behind tipping. People in the service industry who give excellent service get a little extra reward. The reward will give them incentive to continue to perform in an exemplary manner, creating a positive cycle of great service. Too bad reality is nothing like theory.

      In reality, tipping is nothing more than a system of blackmail instituted by food servers. You tip us, and we’ll make sure your burger isn’t basted in the cook’s special sauce. Servers figure out in about 20 minutes that they’re getting tips pretty much no matter what.

      Think back of your last 10 trips to a restaurant. How many times would you describe the service as excellent? Maybe I go to crappier restaurants than you do, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I got excellent service. That’s not to say I get bad service, it just isn’t outstanding. So why is it I have to tip for average service? Why am I rewarding mediocrity?

      Restaurant owners have embraced our willingness to tip. They’ve responded by paying servers everywhere next to minimum wage. The customers directly subsidize the living standards of underpaid wait staff. Is this right? One of the reasons why serving is an attractive career choice for young, uneducated women is because the customer pays them money simply for looking pretty. Often, they can make a decent wage doing something that, frankly, isn’t a very difficult skill to master.

      Sure, it’s a racket. We tolerate it because we’re scared of the consequences, and because we feel compelled to. Let’s at least be honest about the whole thing.

      Why am I expected to tip my server or my hairdresser, yet not the cashier at the grocery store? I worked in a grocery store for more than 5 years and even if the cashier gave service that went above and beyond expectations, she never got rewarded. It’s the same with people who pump gas or who find that tough to find product at Walmart. Those people are providing service as well. Why don’t they get tipped? Where’s the line? Why is the line where it is? It’s because it doesn’t make sense.

      It’s not like people in other industries haven’t tried. I was in 7-11 the other day and noticed a tip jar next to the till. Explain to me why an employee at 7-11 deserves a tip? I poured my own slurpee and then came to them to pay! How do I figure out a tip on a $1.39 slurpee? 15% of $1.40… here’s a quarter. Don’t spend it all in one place. Why is it culturally acceptable for me to not tip at the 7-11, yet it isn’t at a restaurant?

      The bottom line is I’m not a welfare program, or someone’s parents, or a business subsidy program. I don’t know why I should be responsible for bringing someone’s wage up to a minimum living level

      November 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • hippypoet

      first you may want a bit of my understanding of the evils of money – i lived in africa for 6 months.... what the people told me was a simple story and one that has been repeated in history over and over again... once there was peace, then someone found something, then we all had to run and hide, there was screaming and yelling and blood everywhere. When i asked what happened they told me another simple story that we all can relate to.... Other people found something of value and held its value over ours and so we died fighting for our lives. They took what we didn't care about before they were here and now we only care about that because it allows us to be as free as we are now! I cry whenever i remember the story. Once they told me that over to the east there are fresh graves every 3 or 4 days. I did't realize it at the time but they were telling me about a mass killing that takes place weekly almost. Its all due to diamonds and the money they represent.... i hate money, with a passion. I only work for it because i live here in the US...where money is king. The idea of tipping is adding insult to injury for half these waiters have no idea what real work is and wouldn't try harder if i came out and told them i wasn't going to tip unless they do all this – over in africa, the people were happy to be alive, they smile in the worst of times....we US citizens bi-tch and moan when our checks are short! There needs to be a meaning for them to get the extra and not because there jobs suck.... i have worked at worse without tips, however i found diamonds, which i gave to some kids in the street in nairobi.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Susan

      "i hate money, with a passion. I only work for it because i live here in the US...where money is king. "

      It's only king if you allow it to be king. You don't need money all the time to live in the US, I lived off the land for 10 years, I only did odd jobs once in a while if I needed something to help make other foods, like flour, rice but mainly I lived off my garden, no running water, outhouse for a toilet, no TV (I loved that part). Then....I fell in love....and it all came to end with children. LOL! You have to pay for school and medical. If you have a strong back, a willful mind you can do it but it's a lot of work.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Davey,

      You and Hippy both are completely missing the point. A tip is not rewarding mediocrity, it's grading your server based on performance. You don't have to give a very large tip, but giving no tip is not only rude but tells the server that they did such a horrendous job of serving you that they shouldn't earn any money. The other examples you gave are ignorant and stupid and don't apply. You tip the hairdresser because they providing a service with skills they posesse and you do not. Grocers, are not tipped because a) they are payed minimum wage or higher and b) how exactly do you go above and beyond as a cashier that warrents a tip?

      I agree with you that people in 7-11 with the tip jar do not deserve a tip because they didn't do anything, however this doesn't apply to restaurants because the tip is optional and it's not seen as rude by anyone if you don't toss somethng in the bowl. Now why would they even put a tip jar out? Could be a lose change catcher (I know I've probably thrown away near $50 in change because I don't want it jingling in my pockets so I dump it in the jar) and whats the harm in asking? The waiter/waitress is different and depends on tips as part of their wage. Like i said to hippy, if you really don't like it, gather a rally and demand that waiters/waitresses get paid minimum wage and remove the need for tipping, you'll probably find a fair amount of people who agree.

      @ Hippy
      Touching story, really it is, but its unfair to equate the two places. It always frustrates me because my sister spent a year in Africa and came back and had the same atti.tude. After discussion though, one of the biggest issues facing africa today is actually your atti.tude towards it. My brother just finished a stint over in Nairobi as well, working in the Kaibera (sp?) slum and we chatted after he got back. One of the biggest issues he found was that the world looks at Africa with some horror (that their ancestors did to africa), sympathy and overlooks rampant killings, corruption, bribery ect... because those issues lay with the european colonizers who first brought those over. The problem that arises is that it creates an envrinoment where those things can exist and the africans can blame everyone but themselves. My brothers work strove to stop that and make people in the Kaibera slum work to govern themselves, fix their problems, not rely on self-hating white men to provide as.sitance for crimes perpetrated by their ancestors. I'm not saying we cut off help and ignore their problems and make them deal with it, however its important to also let the Africans figure it out and come up with their own way of living.
      If you believe that these people don't deserve a tip because in your opinion they aren't suffering enough as an african in a slum is, you need to reevaluate your priorities and realize that the constant struggles and horrors that happen in Africa do not take away or lessen people's struggles here in America.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • hippypoet

      ah, alas i have 2 kids... i think we may have a third on the way. 🙁

      November 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • hippypoet

      chuchles, you are right, i am very jaded because of my experiences in africa...i'm not sure if i will ever regain who i was before going...but i have no regrets... i have been and will now always be sickened at the lust for money by people. Why can't people be happy without money? i will never understand this one, and i fear it drive me further insane then i already may be. But i still try to understand it. Tipping is done for the simple fact that they are paid sh!t, so increase there pay and no more tipping. right? Nope, we live in the country of greed, the tip shall keep its place at the bottom of the check no matter the wage of the waiter! because now its tradition, and in this country tradition is more powerful then common sense!

      November 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Hippy

      I understand the hatred for money and I agree to an extent that I wish people could enjoy the simpler things in life instead of always striving to fulfill their constant need to buy new and expensive crap, but thats human nature. You can't outlaw it, or change it or strike against it, you can really only curb it.
      I really believe that if Waiters/waiteresses started to make minimum wage instead of relying on tips as a paycheck, tipping would crash. It wouldn't disappear, but I think people would switch to your current system of only tipping for exceptional service, to show appreiciation that the person who shouldn't expect a tip is still doing a great job and deserving. In its current form, they have every right to expect tip and should receive one.
      The way I think of it, would you fail a kid in school if he didn't do an A-worthy performance? No, that's why we have A, B, C, D and F's to rate that person and help them improve. They expect a grade and deserve something that shows how good they're doing rather than receiving either A or 0. right?

      November 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • hippypoet

      as much as i like your anology using kids in school, there is a difference between as adults and the kiddies – we "SHOULD" have no need of reenforcement of good behavior, we should know better...kids are still learning and so need the enforcement of the wanted behavor and they also crave the favor of an adult.... most adults do not crave the approval of others unless having low or no selfesteem. which is also sad by the way. And so i find that the waiters who strive for approval are worthless children walking around in an adults cloths...they need to grow up. Tip offered has no value, a tip earned has value and teaches a lession. So i tip, but what i don't do is just tip! They if need a grade from me, should at least take time to get to know me first or how else will they judge how i judged them... they won't, its all about the money! Now if they came out and said it "its all about the money" then i would have more respect for them and most likely tip them for that statment alone! Honesty is more valueble then most anything.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  20. hippypoet

    forgiviness is great but it has nothing to do with god... i am extremely happy these people are so forgiving but at what cost...this act may make them appear weak and make the next mad man go at them sooner rather then later!

    November 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah I am not sure that it is so black and white. If they establish a history of non-violence then I think eventually they will the fighting will stop. You never see countries like Canada or Sweden go to war, but no one really ever attacks them.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • JoeProfet

      You know, I think God can even forgive you for your ignorance and stupidity, but the difference between you and this murderer is repentance. That's it!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i don;t think there problems will ever cease because of importance of Rwanda in the diamond trade...it sucks .....if you live over in africa and your town produces diamonds then you are most likely very poor and either have been or will be under oppression.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • hippypoet

      joe – go live in africa for 6 months and talk to me... your the ignorant one here... most places infact you may yourself to be the ignorant one. your post on mine because of a statment of opinion towards a fake and moronic god is just sad.... go show your pride elsewhere and make those people understand your insanity, because we will never – why, we are smart!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah I guess location may have something to do with it. Come to think of it are there any African countries that aren't 3rd world. Maybe south Africa and Morocco. But is that because of the location or the culture? I mean if it wasn't for the corruption I am sure they could do something about their situation. Seems like there is a lot of civil war there too. If they could work together without going to war it would be a big help.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Neal Kelley

      Sure it has nothing to do with God.... But there is nothing wrong with a person belief if it involves forgiveness.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • karync

      Forgiveness is on its own in some contexts, but i think most of us can agree that it does have something to do with God, because this is one message that stands out from Him and that is to forgive. Even in this article, the author explains that he remembers that much about forgiveness. As for Rwandas forgiveness evolving into violence, how can we know? This is something very rare happening and i think it would be better to appreciate that they are so forgiving rather than exploring hypotheticals.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:08 am |
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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.