Essay On Forgiveness
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Essay On Forgiveness

Last week, I wrote about the movie Rachel Getting Married, in which Kim is oppressed by guilt after accidentally killing her younger brother. She had been drunk and high and drugs when she drove off a bridge. At one point, Kim confronts her mother. Kim says, ďYou knew I was on drugs. You knew I was drinking. You knew I was out of control. Why did you leave me in charge of my brother?Ē Her mother, in a fury, strikes Kim in the face with a closed fist.
I suspect that many people would initially condemn Kimís blaming her mother. Kimís irresponsible behavior led to her brotherís death. Yet the motherís violent response is telling. If Kimís accusation were groundless, her mother would have regarded it as sadly delusional. The motherís anger reflected her recognition that Kimís charge had a degree of merit.
We prefer to see things in black-and-white Ė there are guilty people and innocent people. However, the real world is rarely that simple. There are almost always many factors that lead to mistakes and tragedies, and usually many people contribute. Is the psychopath who commits robbery and murder entirely to blame for the crime, or are abusive parents, schoolyard bullies, or communities that looked the other way when they saw this person being mistreated as a child partly responsible?
The great difficulty of ascribing guilt properly should discourage us from judging other people. We have a responsibility to discern Ė certain actions are wrong and should be condemned Ė but we border on arrogance if we claim that we would do differently if we walked in their shoes. As animal advocates, we are right to denounce unnecessary harm to animals, but our recognition of this rather obvious truth should not make us feel or act superior. All of us are creations of God. I am grateful that my lifeís journey has taken me along a path that does not, to the best of my ability, harm Godís animals. This has allowed me to live more at peace with myself and the world, and I offer thankful prayers.

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