Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The trouble with grudges.

I was forwarded this email by a friend, and although I don't like to forward on chain emails, I thought you all would appreciate it.

Dear Everyone On My Sundry Mailing Lists,

This is a direct response to the horrible tragedy in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania this past Monday when Charles Roberts gunned down ten young Amish girls, five of whom died and five who are fighting still for their lives. My friend Chris lives in this community and I emailed him Monday afternoon to offer him my... well, to tell him I was thinking about him.

Because it had been reported that the gunman carried out these executions due to a twenty year-old grudge, I told Chris that, to honor those little girls and their community, I am taking a vow from here on out to not hold any more grudges. (For those of you who know me or have read my work, you know that me vowing to give up grudges is akin to a dog voluntarily giving up its bark. This won't be an easy thing for me but it's something I've been needing to do for a long time. I'm just sorry it took something so horrible to get my attention re: the trouble with grudges.)

I got a note back from Chris who told me he passed my message on to one of his Amish neighbors who said, "That is the best response I heard." Honestly, I wasn't angling for a reply, so I was surprised to get this message back. And so I am passing along to you a request that, if you have it in you, please, in honor of the Amish community, give up one grudge today, or at least try. This is what we call, in yoga, a counter pose. If you stretch one way, it's really important to stretch the opposite way for balance. Please, join me in stretching in the opposite direction of Charles Roberts.

Before I got Chris's email today, Herman and I were watching the news and there was a segment about the shootings. And I said to Herman that the thing that would be the most astonishing is that the Amish will find a way to forgive the killer and, I predict, they will reach out to his wife and children. This echoes two tales I recount in my last book. In one story, Amy Biehl, a young white American Fullbright Scholar working for racial equality South Africa was stoned and stabbed to death by blacks. Her parents forgave these men and went on to continue their daughter's work through the Amy Biehl Foundation. In the other story, a guy named Bud Welch, whose daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing not only forgave Timothy McVeigh but
also befriended McVeigh's father. (My friend Hank Stuever wrote a wonderful piece about "Bud the Forgiver" for the Washington Post.)

I want to preface by saying that I'm not a fan of forwarded emails and yet I am going to ask you, if you like what I have to say, please forward this on to others who might be interested. I am going to go and let go of a grudge now so if you hear a loud groan or other noise of transition, that would be me, making a change.

With love and hope,


Like Spike, I famously hold grudges. But I've also learned that they don't hurt the person you're upset with, they only hurt you. Knowing this doesn't really make it easier, but I think I will try.


At 4:50 PM, Blogger Freddy the Prayer Warrior said...

Made me think.

Guess I'll go ahead and give up firearms.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

So true. So true. Not only does holding a grudge not hurt the person you're angry at, but it always gives them the "victory".

At 9:39 AM, Anonymous amanda cathleen said...

great thing about short term memory loss, I can't remember!
thank you so much for sharing, nancy is right holding a grudge hurts you more than it hurts the other person.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Kodachrome Knits said...

I like these thoughts, these words. Thanks for sharing and passing them on.


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