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Newsletter for March 2001email : firstname.lastname@example.org website : http://www.forgivenessnet.co.uk
|When forgiveness gets a bad name Ex-President
Bill Clinton may well have seriously abused the office's provisions for merciful
pardon. A number of 'friends' seem to have bought judicial clemency by donating
large amounts of money to the Clintons or the Democratic party. His brother-in-law
Hugh Rodham is under investigation concerning receiving money for brokering one - perhaps
many - act(s) of clemency.
Very sadly, this episode illustrates how forgiveness can be cheapened. If the Clintons were the direct victims of drug-related crimes or embezzlement, for them to publicly forgive the debts owed them by the perpetrators would be inspiring. (As was their work to lead the US and World Bank to forgive many countries their international debt.)
But having the power to forgive is more than the power to take a decision or write a pardon. None of the releases from prosecution or prison had the support of the penal or legal services - and the Clinton group simply diverted the pardons past the Justice Department.
Pardon, clemency and mercy are not single, isolated actions. They need a context of renewed minds and hearts. They must include the power and the personal freedom and authority to live out transformed relationships in society ... and to lead other members of one's society or community - victims and perpetrators - into changed, more creative relationships.
A more convenient way?
But then we live in a world where forgiveness is so easily commercialised. The end always seems to justify the means. Philip Noble sent us a smile-inducing reminder: