Two recent stories have caused me to consider how long is enough?
2 One of Nicola Sturgeon’s new ministers has lost her job before even being confirmed by Parliament over blog posts deemed “offensive and inappropriate”. Gillian Martin, named as a junior education minister on Wednesday, wrote about “hairy knuckled, lipstick-wearing transgender laydees” in a 2007 post.
The forgiveness being given in one story after 3 years contradicts the outcry to the second story. I am not involved with their situation so it is easy for me to forgive, or conversely it is easy to condemn their past action and hold their views as stationary. But I find myself thinking…
How long is long enough to hold people to account?
Can people really change?
Are Christians more likely to give forgiveness?
Is forgiveness given to easily within the Christian community?
Apologies requires two parts, the first person to say “I am sorry” the second person to say “I accept”.
Being the first person to apologise is tough. I do not like that I am human and this means I am changeable and fallible (often). Life changes. I have changed. But I am constantly here. I am not a journey, as that implies my views are always changing and if I do not change then I am not journeying. I am here and have experienced life as best I can. I wondered what I would do in each situation, would I apologise and mean the apology.
It also needs the other, the second person. The other includes whoever was directly affected by these actions. The politician was talking about others in her blog, and the Bookman convinced others that what he was doing was correct. You cannot apologise if you do not know what you are apologising for. Perhaps an apology will make things ok with who they were wronging. Perhaps this represents an acknowledgement that what they did was wrong and a commitment to do the future differently. I don’t know an apology would demonstrate a changed belief, at a basic level by not having affairs or not writing blogs they would demonstrate a change. It is challenging to forgive but it is what I am called to do.
So how long is enough? What do people have to do to be forgiven? Perhaps the third person the in the situation needs thought about. The third person is wider society. We ask both people to hold office (in church and in parliament), we then hold both to an additional standard of behaviour. Where there is abuse of power or the possibility of this behaviour we say “NO” to appointment. We judge the situation and the person as we see fit. We are comfortable with the operation of a public court system where people are tried publicly, although the public most times were not offended against. But the legal system is not as important as social media and the court of public opinion. The both are guilty. Apologies may have been said, but still I judge them. I am uncomfortable with the three years in case one, as I do not think it is long enough. I am also uncomfortable with 11-year-old blogs being used as an example of the politicians views. But this doesn’t tell me anything about the people; it doesn’t tell me whether they have changed, or whether they have unrepentant carried on. I judge them based on the worst part of their existence that we know about. I was criticising Donald Trump recently, when an American youth worker told his story of asking the Trump organisation for help to make a good night for a group of young people. He was asked to Trump tower in New York and surprisingly, ended up meeting with Donald Trump. Come the night and the Trump organisation really did a great job in making the night awesome, going above and beyond for the young people. While I am not a supporter of President Trumps policies or presidential reign, neither was the American youth worker, I am aware that the picture is more complex than I see. Humans act as humans, frustratingly inconsistent.