Nearly every person on the earth holds a grudge or emotion inside of him or herself that tears them apart. The feeling of mistrust, hurt, and anger wrappedinto one ball. This may seem all too familiar, however not one human being candeny holding one of these feelings at some point in time. Of all the diseasesand illnesses this plagues all the people of the world. I’m talking about theemotions we hold inside until we forgive the one who had caused pain on ourlife. How much can a person forgive? This is the question that we all must askourselves.
This is the question that Mitchell Wright had to ask himself. We allrecall the event that took place on March 34 of last year (1998). That was theday that two middle school boys decided to play sniper. Mitchell Johnson andAndrew Golden killed four of their classmates and one teacher, Mrs. Wright. Fourfamilies lost a child and one son lost his mother.
Mitchell Johnson and AndrewGolden pulled the fire alarm to lure the students and teachers outside, theyplanned to shoot above the heads of their classmates and teachers, however thatis far from what it seemed. Though the two boys cried that they only planned toonly give students and teachers a scare, they fired 22 shots. Five shots, firedby Johnson, directly hit one student in the head, two girls in the knee area,and Mrs. Wright in the chest and knee area.
This did not and to this day doesnot feel or look like a joke. So how can those families go on? How is MitchellWright going to explain to his son how why is mother is gone? Most importantly,how will those two boys be forgiven for taking the lives of five loved andloving people? The answer to all of these is in one word, forgiveness. This wordhold much more than the words, “I forgive you”, ” I’msorry”, rather they involve reaching in to the bottom of your heart andsoul, and confrontation. These two may not seem to go together but more than werealize, they do.
Research and facilities have been created and built to studythe effects that forgiving and not forgiving have on people. Everett Worthingtonis the director of the Templeton Foundation Campaign for Forgiveness Research. Worthington is a psychologist in Virginia who studies the physiological effectsof forgiveness among chimpanzees and on the pulse and sweat glands of humans. Imagine sitting in a chair with electrodes stuck to your head, a tone plays inthe back round and a memory comes to mind, one that you hold a grudge for, andyou begin to act it out. Another tone plays and a pleasant memory of empathizingcomes to mind.
For 16 seconds you rehearse each memory that is brought on by adifferent tone, while your heart rate and blood pressure are constantlymeasured. This is what would happen if you were to volunteer at the researchfacilities at Templeton. Those who did volunteer were subject to this testing,and for many it was a lesson to learn that they need to forgive. The results ofthe heart ate and blood pressure showed “robust” differences betweenthose memories that were tied to a grudge versus those that were tied withforgiveness. This was not surprising to some but for others it was a slap in theface.
Robert Enright, a few years ago, trashed the idea that forgiveness had anyeffect on health. He was quoted as saying, ‘Only wimps forgive’. Enright is apsychology at the University of Wisconsin, now says that they ‘are really on aroll’. With the results showing that the stress level was “significantlyhigher” when a person considered revenge. Although the person may laugh andjoke about such and event internally the signs show that it is harmful if enoughis endured.
So what does this have to do with Mitchell Wright? Mitchell Wrightis faced with a very hard issue. With his wife murdered by two young boys, and ason asking when she is going to come home, he has to deal with the matter in away to benefit not only his son but also himself. With the new knowledge thatforgiveness is a way to not only better his heart and body but also his soul. Hehas taken the horrifying situation and turned it into a grand .