It’s hard to find words to convey the admiration, respect and compassion I feel for you. I feel awe at your willingness to forgive the terrible crime committed against your family members. That you choose to shine love into hate is beautiful. That you choose to forgive means hatred cannot win.
Your willingness to forgive inspires people all over the world. I am a white woman, writing from across the ocean. My life, my experiences and my culture are different to yours. And yet, our hearts beat to the same rhythm, and our hearts feel pain, sorrow, grief, anger and forgiveness in the same way. If you, in your terrible loss, can stand before the man who murdered your loved ones and open your hearts to forgiveness, then so too can I open my heart to forgive those who have wronged me in some minor way.
Forgiveness heals, yet it cannot take away the pain and sadness you feel right now.
Bethane Middleton-Brown, thank you for your honesty and courage in acknowledging your anger, and for making forgiveness your aim. In your courage to show your true feelings, you honour yourself. You honour those who died. You also show the world that forgiveness is a process that can sometimes take time.
For all of you, if sometimes you feel anger towards the man who robbed you of your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters or friends – forgive yourself.
If you feel anger at the craziness of a world in which someone can hate based on the colour of skin – forgive yourself.
If you remember a smile from your loved one and grief cuts to your core – forgive yourself.
If you wonder how God could allow such a terrible thing to happen – forgive yourself.
We grieve with you. We grieve for the world we all dream of, a world that as yet does not fully exist. A world in which the colour of a person’s skin matters no more than the colour of their eyes.
Rev. Clementa Pickney, Twanza Sanders, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Ethel Lance, Myra Thompson, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. and Susie Jackson you did not die in vain. All around the world, people are thinking of you, and are determined that we will create that world we dream of. A world where everyone feels safe, no matter the colour of their skin, no matter if they belong to any religion or none.