Forgiveness and Justice: Hearing Both of the Jean’s

Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt, offered a remarkable moment of forgiveness toward Amber Guyger today in the courtroom. But his Mother said deeply important things too. We must hear them both.

Brandt offered forgiveness and an embrace to Amber Guyger. As DA John Creuzot said, almost nobody in the judicial system sees moments like that, ever.

I have no doubt that it was heartfelt and sincere on his part. If he is going to move forward with his life, finding a way to forgive her and let go a hate is essential.
Hate can truly destroy us from the inside. As Frederick Buechner has said, hate is like a feast where you’re enjoying eating the meat…only to realize that you’re eating yourself.

On a PERSONAL level, then, that moment between those two human beings was holy and beautiful and brought tears to our eyes.
Unless we find ways to offer personal forgiveness, we are sunk as a society.

I’m seeing come criticism of the moment on social media tonight.
But, who am I…or who is anyone…to judge the sincerity of that moment between the two of them? Only God can create moments like that. He just might have reacted in anger and rage. If he’d done that, would we judge and critique him? I’m going to take it as an honest and sincere moment between two human beings, in a world that is desperate for that.

But, Botham’s Mother also had a righteous call too. Maybe you missed it? It was about 20 minutes after her son spoke from the stand. We deserve to hear her too.

HER statement was about our city, and about policies of policing that need to change. Her call was for us to make SYSTEMIC change.

“There is much more to be done in the city of Dallas…”
“Our lives must move on, but our lives must move on with change…”
“There has got to be a better day, and that better day starts with every one of us…the City of Dallas needs to clean up inside…”

In a real sense, you saw these two family members saying quite different things. But each in their own way, quite necessary things too.

To truly honor Botham’s memory, we must somehow do all of what they are both calling us to do.

We must find a way not to demonize ANYONE personally.
And, to the extent that God gives us the calling, we must forgive. (Forgiveness, however, can never be demanded or insisted upon…and perhaps no one outside the person who offers it can truly understand it…)

But, to honor him, we must *also* name that certain systems of training also caused harm not only to his life but also to officers such as Amber Gugyer. Those systems must change.
Botham’s Mother is absolutely right about that. Not just, however, to keep the innocent safe, but also to keep *officers* safe too.

There is work to do in our city.
Personal work…justice work…

My Lord, what an afternoon we have seen.
What a metaphor for it all.

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