UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

To Forgive ... Divine

Documentarian asks if forgiveness is always possible

By Patricia Clarke

Directed by Hilary Pryor
May Street Productions
VisionTV: Oct. 5, 10 p.m. EST


Reena Virk’s parents will never get over their 14-year-old daughter’s murder. But in a few years, they were able to forgive one of their daughter’s killers and help him start a new life.

How is such forgiveness possible? Hilary Pryor, who has had her own struggles to forgive, tries to answer this question in her documentary To Forgive . . . Divine. In the film, she calls on the teachings of four world faiths and the insights of other victims.

She knows forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity. Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” and cried out on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” But what does it actually mean?

It does not mean that wronging others is okay. It does not mean your action has no consequence. It does not mean reconciliation. Forgiveness is what you do; reconciliation takes two.

It does mean recognizing the other person’s humanity, recognizing what may have made them what they are and that forgiveness may help them on the way to what they should be. Manjit Virk put it that way, speaking of the young man convicted in his daughter’s death. When the attacker recognizes the harm he has done and truly repents, the onus is then on the victim to forgive, Virk says. Though one life is irrevocably lost, another can be redeemed.

Hard to do, and it cannot be forced. But when you succeed, victims say, it’s like having a weight lifted or freeing yourself from chains.

Forgiveness also means recognizing that all of us are flawed. One interviewee, Adam, who lost his mother to Hitler’s Holocaust when he was six, explains it this way. After the war, he was jailed in Pinochet’s Chile as a follower of former president Salvador Allende. But if his side had been in power, would it have behaved differently? Would he have followed orders to torture or kill? “I am grateful,” he says, “not to have been put to that test.”

To Forgive . . . Divine is not a film many people would choose to watch for entertainment, even though the speakers representing the four faiths each make a convincing case. But it would be great for group discussion, either during the broadcast or, if recorded, at a more convenient time.

Patricia Clarke is a writer and editor in Toronto.



Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image