“Imagine if we had chosen the path of retribution…” Desmond Tutu knew something important for South Africa at the time of Apartheid’s dismantling. He knew that black people had won their freedom FROM the white oppression that had marked the country for so long. But he also knew that there would be no DEEP FREEDOM, true freedom, authentic freedom, for anyone in that country unless there was forgiveness.
Today is independence day. We celebrate the “bombs bursting in air” – which is difficult to mistake. It is a triumphalism. It is an annual cultural liturgy. We are rehearsing the victorious Revolutionary War and its symbolic meaning – we are free from British oppression. I for one, am glad we are free FROM such a thing.
But my prayer today is that we can find within us, behind the triumphalism of American liturgy, behind the emotions that come with being victorious in battle, the courage to forgive whoever needs to be forgiven. We will have no future without forgiveness. There is no freedom without forgiveness. Such a thing does not exist.