The last few months have been the most traumatic in my life, because of the illness and death of my big brother Malcolm from bladder cancer. The dementia that accompanied the later stages of his illness increasingly took his soul away from me, and we often conversed in silences, smiles and strokes. He died on 3rd December 2014.
In 2015 I remember the most meaningful Queen’s speech I have ever heard, delivered on Christmas Day?
Here’s how it went:
2014 is the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, and the Queen highlighted the truce on Christmas Day in 1914 when German soldiers exchanged gifts and played football with the British and Allied soldiers. She pointed to reconciliation and forgiveness as the only way to stop an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.
Malcolm also asked for reconciliation between family and friends in one his last wishes, and the message was dramatically emphasised by Victor Hugo, who in his book Les Miserables created Valjean (who experienced forgiveness in his life and learned to share that forgiveness with others) and Javert (who could not forgive and did not allow himself to accept the forgiveness of others, creating bitterness that continued to build within him until he could no longer cope…).
Whether it’s the Taliban, ISIS, Kim Jong-un, or differences between friends and families, we can all learn from the spirit of Christmas Day 1914, and from the fictional novel Les Miserables.
In 1914 the ensuing peace lasted only 24 hours, before the carnage costing +20 million lives played out its macabre tune.
The great American preacher E.H. Chapin once said, “Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it forgoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury.”
So as 2015 unfolds, strive to forgive easily and freely, and enjoy the freedom and joy that forgiveness brings—not only to the forgiven but also to the forgiver.
No-one in their right mind rejects a plea to forgive.