Revenge is a dish best never served

By By Aaron Zundel

By Aaron Zundel

Mahatma Gandhi taught that forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. And in today’s fast-paced, self-centered world, our weakness is apparent. When the jerk cuts us off on the freeway, we give him the finger. When the line at the bank is too long, we snap at the teller. And when someone kills our families, we want to kill that person in return.

Christopher Williams, on the other hand, is one of the strong.

Williams, an LDS bishop and father of four children, lost his pregnant wife and two other children in a collision with a drunk teenage driver last Friday. However, in a press conference on Monday, Williams said he forgave the teen for killing his family, and asked the community to forgive as well.

Instead of using the press conference as a platform to speak out against underage drinking (which would be understandable), condemn irresponsible parenting or blast the teenager himself for his careless, irresponsible and tragic behavior, Williams, with a calm and thoughtful demeanor, said, “My extended family has made an expression of love and an outreach of love to the family of the driver of the vehicle, and it has brought a lot of healing to both sides.”

Williams went on to speak about how he decided to forgive the driver of the other car in the minutes after the crash. Despite seeing and knowing that his family had been killed in the collision, Williams summoned the character to decide to forgive as he was being pulled out of the wreckage.

Especially here at the U, it’s easy to make fun of and resent the religious majority in our state. Why not? There’s a (possibly well-deserved) stigma concerning perceived pompous, self-righteous behaviors and attitudes in some of our more religious community members. To be honest, sometimes religion has caused more harm than good when it comes to community relations.

So it’s nice to see how religion can also be a force for healing and understanding in our community. In his press conference, Williams made no attempt to hide that his religious beliefs affected his decision to forgive the drunk teenage driver, nor did he attempt to hide that religion influenced his desire for others to forgive those who have wronged them.

“If you are in a position to extend a single act of kindness, a token of mercy or expression of forgiveness,” Williams said, “do it by Valentine’s Day.”

Williams’ encouragement of forgiveness comes in the wake of Monday’s shooting tragedy at Trolley Square, and reminds us that how we react to tragedies is, in large part, within our control. Williams stated that forgiving has brought about healing for himself in the wake of his personal tragedy, and perhaps if we follow his advice and forgive others, we might be able to find some healing for ourselves in the aftermath of the senseless violence at Trolley Square that, for many of us, shattered our sense of safety and community.

Williams has asked that anyone expressing kindness or forgiveness e-mail his or her story to the surviving members of his family at [email protected].