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On Forgiveness – 3 October 2016

I felt strong enough this morning to resume my treadmill session; and while at it, watched CNN Incredible Stories which featured amongst other things the amazing story of Eva Moses Kor. Eva and Miriam were born twins in January 1934. When she was ten, the family was taken to Auschwitz where the twins were separated from the family and from where the family never saw each other. Eva was subjected to repeated and fatal medical experimentation under Dr. Josef Mengele, aka the Angel of Death. Fate had it that she survived and went to the United States, where thanks to the media, she not only got reunited with her twin sister, but was also reconnected with a number of Auschwitz children who survived the Holocaust. Her full story was documented in her book, “Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz.”

At 82, Eva is very much alive, alert and agile. She responded to the questions from the panel on her life in general and on the subject of forgiveness in particular. Ten years after she located her twin sister, Eva began to conceive the idea of forgiving her tormentors. “Getting even has never healed a single person.” is one of her oft repeated quotes and speaks it all. She also said that by not forgiving or hating someone, more harm would be inflicted to the victims than on the perpetrators, “Forgiveness is not so much for the perpetrator, but for the victim.”

How true, how Christian and how Buddhist!

Eva has actually met the Angel of Death since, has taken a picture with him and asked him to sign a statement on the existence of the gas chambers, which he did. There is a genuine sense of kindness and relief when she relates to why she has forgiven him. In particular, she said she never hated him; and she was somewhat taken aback when he, of his own accord, hugged her.

There are two simple things I have learnt in life. The first is that love and hate are not on opposite sides. Indeed, they sit side by side, with indifference on the opposite bench. The second thing is that it consumes so much more of one’s energies to hate someone so that it’s more effective simply to forgive him or her for whatever harm inflicted. These days, I try not to hate anyone. Indeed, I do not have the time to hate anyone. It sounds easy. Doesn’t it? But putting it into practice is a different story, and I believe it takes more than human power to do so, which is why living with Faith is so important.

Every main stream religion has its own specific interpretation of Faith and I respect them all. As a Catholic, we believe that our Faith is an interpretation by God through his son Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Holy Bible. It is not something made or invented by human beings. That is actually the theme of today’s first scripture reading taken from St Paul who is a great if not the greatest interpreter of the Christian’s Faith.

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