Should Past Crimes Be Forgiven?

We’ve all heard of this adage, “To err is human, To forgive is divine” but how many of us can truly live with this quote or philosophy? We find it hard to forgive someone over a mistake, what more when that mistake is a crime.

What then constitutes a crime?

Legally speaking, a crime is simply a breach of a code of law which more often than not, is one that is prescribed by man to maintain order within society. A crime can also be prescribed as something that goes against the word of god or someone who transgresses limits set upon by a religion. From time to time, laws set by humans replicates laws of a religion set by god but the difference between the two is the punishment meted out and the reprieve given to the one who committed it.

In speaking of past crimes, one of utmost atrocities and commemorated would be events such as: World War, 9/11, Bali Bombings and etc. These are crimes committed at an international level and have received international condemnation that even decades after the incident, many still live with the scars.

Of course, some would argue that 9/11 was a conspiracy by the US Government in their bid to takeover Iraq’s oil. This is evident from evidence put forth by experts who argue that the collapse of World Trade Centre was impossible as it was designed and engineered to withstand airplane crashes and looked more like it was a controlled demolition since the steel were pulverised, consistent with that of a controlled demolition or even the fact that the US Government had already issued out oil contracts to several companies before the Iraq War even began (Halliburton was one such company).

If indeed, it was Al-Qaeda who had committed the attack on WTC, Osama Bin Laden is now dead but have the victims forgiven him? Probably not. But if it was the US Government who had orchestrated it, would the sentiments now change? Perhaps, people would be more forgiving to Osama Bin Laden, knowing that he was shot dead without any weapon in his hand, meaning to say that he was murdered. But what then of those Iraqis who had died during the invasion of US to topple Saddam in its bid to stop Iraq’s development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (which was never found). Would the US Government be liable to be held for murder too because Saddam was similarly shot dead without a weapon on him.

Perhaps, we could learn to forgive to allow us to find closure in our lives, in order to move on but never to forget as those crimes serve as lessons for the future.

One thing that we could learn perhaps would be the story of Prophet Moses, whereby he had killed someone because he was asked to, only for him to later realise that, that man had done no wrong. Sure he had killed someone and that was a grave sin, to have taken someone’s life, but he then regretted his actions and repented and sought forgiveness from god who forgave him.

Indeed, it’s true that god is the All-Merciful and is ever willing to forgive someone who has regretted and repented for what man has done wrong. But would man ever be able to do the same? To forgive someone who has regretted his actions and repented, especially if the man had killed another? The human law currently doesn’t cater to recognise regret or repentance that an individual has, but to punish and deter others from doing the same. Although if you killed someone, more often than not, you will be at the receiving end of the same crime you committed, death.

But what then if the crime is a mistake?

After all, to prosecute someone, the person’s mental state of mind is also argued in court. The person’s intent; was it pre-meditated or was it in retaliation? Was it carefully planned or was it out of passion?

We could always prosecute a person but how do we prosecute an organisation, what more a government?

My take on this would be that it’s tough, it’s tough to simply forgive unless I am able to determine and satisfy my doubts that, that person or organisation has Regretted and Repented and this can only be demonstrated by actions taken. And this is after I am able to ascertain that person or organisation’s Intent when the crime was committed.

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