Sunday, January 18, 2009

Redemption



We stand on the threshold of a new era. In two days we finally will turn the page on a presidential administation that has damaged our great nation in so many ways and has brought so much fear, anxiety and outright suffering to so many. An administration that has fanned the flames of hatred, bigotry and ignorance for its own gain, hacking open a rift between our people that may take generations to heal.

As we say good riddance to the politics of fear, lies and exploitation, we swear in a man who won the presidency with a message of hope that this nation can be restored to its former glory. Once again the United States can be a symbol of freedom, equality and opportunity instead of a bully that treats its founding principles as nothing more than advertising slogans and protects its short-term interests at the expense of its long-term interests with threats, lies, bullets and bombs.

On Jan. 20, our nation will have the opportunity to begin to redeem itself in the eyes of so many of its own people and in the eyes of the world. Perhaps we, as individuals, also should seize this opportunity for redemption. January 20 can be Redemption Day, when we atone for our own missteps and make amends with those we have wronged, intentionally or otherwise; when we break the cycle of anger begetting anger and revenge begetting revenge. For any individual, this might mean making a difficult phone call, going to confession or performing community service. But we can let go of negativity in favor of reconciliation, peace, happiness and harmony.

And, of course, in that spirit, we can expand our capacity for forgiveness on that day and allow ourselves to be more receptive to the apologies and conciliatory gestures of others.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. This passage in the Lord's prayer acknowledges that forgiveness is a two-way street, that we can't expect someone to let go of any ill will they may be feeling toward us if we can't do the same for someone else.

In short, you get what you give.

Every day, we have the opportunity to walk the walk, to show the grace and strength of character that it takes to forgive, to acknowledge our mistakes and to seek forgiveness. Perhaps if we set aside one day a year to recognize that opportunity, we will celebrate and use it more often.

It may not seem like one person's picking up the phone and saying "I'm sorry" or telling another person "I forgive you" and really meaning it would make much of a difference in the world, but what if it's not just one person? What if thousands of us did this? What if millions did? And even if it is just one person, replacing discord with harmony is a net gain.

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