I recently watched Crown Heights, a drama based on the true story of Colin Warner who was convicted of a murder he did not commit, resulting in 21 years behind bars, 21 years of horrific injustice, 21 years of a changed life. The story is also (and equally) about his best friend, Carl King, who never gave up on him. King was the one who finally forced justice, who fought for Warner’s final release.
“If the label doesn’t fit you, then fight it. Or you’ll live it out.”—Colin Warner
Warner’s story involves a word that I’ve been dissecting lately: Forgiveness. What does forgiveness truly mean? Not tritely. But truly. How does it look for those who have fallen victim to injustice? Or for those who were simply born into injustice? Is “moving on” a singular decisive action? Or will it evolve over a life time?
Warner could have pleaded guilty as he was pressured to do, and possibly received a reduced sentence. But he wasn’t guilty. And so, he fought the label.
I wonder, can forgiveness allow room for fighting…for one’s life, name, and dignity? Can it understand that pain needs processing? That forgiving injustice could take as long as finding justice? That forgiveness is bigger and deeper than just moving on? I wonder if forgiveness understands that “not seeking revenge” also simultaneously means seeking self. Again and again and again.