Charleston – A Little Bit of Forgiveness Goes a Long Way

Dylann RoofCharleston – A Little Bit of Forgiveness Goes a Long Way

Right after the massacre in Charleston last week, the first TV clip I saw was the prosecutor ranting on about how she was going to make sure that boy would get the death sentence. Of course. It’s what people say after events like this.   

Very soon afterwards, however, came the clip of a family member of one of those who died, looking at the boy in the eyes and saying “I forgive you.”  

In that instant everything changed. The energy shifted. That someone was able to forgive became the great news story of the week, and it dominated the discussion on all the Sunday talk shows. It even trumped the gun issue. If you followed the story, and saw the effect that this single act had on those in the church, and those who watched it on TV, I don’t know how you could ever doubt the power of forgiveness to heal the world. 

How could anyone watch that and witness the love and spirit of oneness being expressed in that church and not feel a twang of shame for having had the usual knee-jerk reaction that demands harsh punishment, eye-for-an-eye justice and revenge, without it ever coming to mind that forgiveness is a better option?  

Everyone was humbled by that woman’s grace and compassion, but she was not the only voice for forgiveness.  There were many. I was particularly touched by words spoken by a woman who had lost someone in the massacre and was clearly deep in grief. Through her tears she said, “I know that there are a lot of people here who have been able to forgive him, but I’m not there yet. I’ll get there eventually, but I just can’t. Not yet.” 

However, she was WILLING to forgive, and that is all that matters. Spirit does the rest. She will get there, I have no doubt about that. Willingness is the key.

So what is the lesson for us here? First and foremost, we need to recognize that the boy’s action and thought processes that fed his hatred for black people was a mirror for us all. The issue of the deep-seated hatred of those of African-American descent by the white race has to be faced head-on.  And boy, didn’t this kid rub our noses in the dirt? He made us look at ourselves and confront our ugliness and challenge our denial.

This hatred, born out of our shame for having supported the evil crime of slavery for so long, exists deep in the shadow of all Americans. As well as those who, like me, have lived here long enough to be contaminated by it. Until we come to terms with it, talk it through, and eventually heal it, there will be many others who will poke us with another sharp stick to force us to wake the f_____ up, just like this kid did for us.

Secondly, we received a powerful demonstration of how one person forgiving can change the course of events, and perhaps even change history. This is why we have created a special worksheet for applying Radical Forgiveness to world events like this one.  It’s called the Radical Transformation worksheet.  

Click here to download one now and join with the lady who forgave Dylann Roof by adding your vibration to that or any other cause ‘out there,’ you feel strongly about.  I believe that Radical Forgiveness is the only way we are going to heal the racial divide, and this incident may well have provided an impetus for us to jump start it.  Let’s do it.

17 thoughts on “Charleston – A Little Bit of Forgiveness Goes a Long Way

  1. Bridgette

    The families of the victims have very clearly shown the amazing power of forgiveness and how it sets off small, then increasingly powerful ripples to change the world. Just look at the change in the willingness of people- in the South-to see the Confederate Flag through another’s eyes as a symbol of hate, oppression, and de-humanization? The speed at which this flag is being retired is astonishing and unfathomable just days ago. Love and radical forgiveness allow miracles to be seen all the time. The families are a wonderful example of the light workers rising among us. So grateful for how they shined!

  2. Mark Thomson

    Thank you Colin for this blog. I missed the piece on TV you mentioned of the woman forgiving the killer. I have been praying for several days that much good will come out of this horrible shooting.

    There is so much harm that comes from the mistaken thinking that other people, who are different to ourselves in some way, are to be feared. I will complete one of your transformation sheets.

    On a different note I had been about to apply for your radical forgiveness coaching course in England where I live until I heard of your illness. Obviously I wish you all the best in your recovery – and I have a vested self-interest as I will still next year want to learn this from you. All the best,

    Mark T

  3. Gail

    The issue of the deep-seated hatred of those of African-American descent by the white race has to be faced head-on. And boy, didn’t this kid rub our noses in the dirt? He made us look at ourselves and confront our ugliness and challenge our denial.

    Really? I am white with no deep seated hatred for African-Americans. Or do you claim that is just my denial? There will always be crazy people of both races (all races) who do evil….it is not brought on my hatred of the other race; it is brought on by evil.
    Let’s not make a terrible tragedy worse by fueling more unrest between the races.

    I bow to those relatives of the victims who say they forgive him (the boy) or are willing to forgive him. God bless them.

    1. Laurie Moison

      I agree with Gail. I am white and I don’t have any hatred for blacks. Since I was very young, I have always had good friends in the black community and we have always had a beautiful flow between us.

      It serves no healthy purpose to take on guilt I don’t have just to fit Colin’s model. Are there people in this country who harbor racial hatred–YES–there are whites who hate blacks and there are blacks who hate whites. Assuming guilt for other people’s stuff is co-dependent. Why not just continue to walk in love.

      Moreover, when have whites finished “paying” for slavery? This is kind of like someone did something when they were five and now they’re 85 and people keep bringing it up and reminding the person how bad he/she is because he/she did something long, long ago. During and after slavery, there are many, many whites who have stood in solidarity with their black brothers and sisters, marched, spent time in jail, helped them escape, died, etc. to correct what happened in slavery. We have a black President and he got elected because many white voted for him. Colin’s insistence that this is about ALL Americans is counter-productive. It’s about a FEW Americans.

      In treating cancer, in earlier times, treatment attacked both healthy and unhealthy cells in an effort to kill the cancer. Now, through research, cancer treatment focuses more on the unhealthy cells–the damage is much less and the treatment is more successful with fewer side effects. So, when it comes to racism, rather than attack the healthy hearts in an effort to get to the unhealthy hearts, let’s just focus on the unhealthy.

      Let’s not make this about racism: I think the issue is more any hatred that we have towards anyone (family members, neighbors, co-workers, road-rage, etc.); any way that we feel someone else deserves to be treated with less respect than we ourselves want to be treated. THAT is the human issue and it crosses racial divides. It crosses religious divides. It crosses economic divides.

      I do see the beautiful energy that was created by the forgiveness of the beautiful people of Emmanuel. Yes! Powerful stuff that brought down that ugly flag that’s flown for far too long. However, if this sad event turns into an indictment of all white people, that is going to miss the point and shift the energy in the wrong direction.

  4. Rev. Marcia MacLean

    Dear Colin,

    Thank you and bless you for your commentary and for this very special worksheet. I have used and recommended your Radical Forgiveness worksheets many times, both as an individual and as a teacher of the Science of Mind. I believe we are being called out of our comfortable adolescence, as students and teachers of New Thought, to bring to and share with the world what we have been learning in our own healing journeys. We are whole enough, and more ready than we may believe, to “become the change we wish to see in the world.” We continue to share in the vision of wholeness, too, for you, as you move through this extraordinary and timely “re-boot”, becoming more of who you “came here to be”. In love and deep gratitude, Rev. Marcia MacLean, CSL Palm Beaches

  5. brenda redman

    Forgiveness is a great thing , but is a process . I am sure whatever evil spirit took over his body ,probably due to lack of parental involvement , he has been out of school since 9th grade without a job, has left and now he is just a boy sitting in a cell all alone trying to come to term with he has done. Not that I what anyone to feel sorry for him , but prior to what he did brotherly love and concern might have helped a lot.

  6. Pat Hanson

    Thank you Colin for leading the way about forgiveness even before this unspeakable event catalyzed more reactions internationally, and especially here at home. There is a zeitgeist happening for the good, and your work and free radical forgiveness sheets and workshops have contributed to the growing critical mass that is bringing radical change for the positive. As I learned from you at Omega in 2012 there is a bigger picture, call it ‘divine destiny’ or ‘karma’ if you wish, to all of the opportunities that are put in our face to grow. Here’s to your health and continued good work in the world.

  7. Judy Knoll

    I would like to know what this young man is about. I recently gave a talk about young people who get depressed and kill because of the horrible anti-depressants they are on.

    I am presently on a mission to teach children how to heal themselves and other so that this does not happen.
    Judy Knoll, Reiki master teacher

  8. D Berkley

    I also noticed the presiding judge was attempting to set the stage for compassion and a greater understanding, but was attacked by the media for his “inappropriate comments.” Hatred is far too high a price to pay for this senseless act. Racism is insidious, and we all should be ashamed for out part in its continuing existence. Nine precious lives have been lost, and perhaps, at some level, we are all to blame.

  9. Susan


    You had me until “The issue of the deep-seated hatred of those of African-American descent by the white race has to be faced head-on. And boy, didn’t this kid rub our noses in the dirt? He made us look at ourselves and confront our ugliness and challenge our denial.”

    The boy who perpetrated this act is obviously disturbed and under the influence of evil. To call on the carpet an entire nation for the actions of one seriously deranged individual is, at best, misguided.

    If you or others have deep-seated hatred of those of African-American descent, then it’s excellent that you’re willing to root that out. Please don’t paint the rest of us with that ugly brush.

    A majority of caucasians elected an African-American to the presidency of the United States in both 2008 and in 2012. This does not indicate a deep-seated hatred of African-Americans by the majority of caucasians in this country.

    Trying to induce self-blame in people innocent of a particular crime is, in my opinion, overreaching in order to further your cause. Stop it. We don’t need to sow more racial descent in this land. We need to heal.

  10. William McNabb

    Great article, Collin. I was impressed with the woman in Charleston who forgave Roof. We need more of that. In his book, Be Nobody, Lama Marut quotes the writer, Ursula K. Le Guin, “To oppose something is to maintain it.” Marut goes further and says, “We can only think of ourselves as victims because we think of others as oppressors.” I remember as a youngster someone telling me, “What you resist, persists.” The minister in our church has read Radical Forgiveness and we are planning a session to pray and meditate on creating World Peace, something I plan to do in several locations. Peace, Love and Joy be with everyone always.

  11. Brenda Taylor

    When I heard those family members saying they forgave him I immediately thought of you, Colin, and of Radical Forgiveness. It’s the only way. Hope you’re doing well.

  12. Mimi Goodwin

    I could not agree more about this and all events needing forgiveness, nor about some people needing time to get to it. However, I have been very challenged by the “All Americans” thing with regard to racism. And I say that with a caveat which I will express in a moment. No one in my family lived in this country before slavery. Add to this that my parents were advocates for not only desegregation, but integration, long before Rosa Parks ever got on that infamous bus. I totally get that my work around forgiveness is as crucial as anyone’s, and I’m up for it always and everywhere. The US government and people have committed atrocious acts, including genocide. But I’m not convinced that this is the shadow of everyone who was born here.

    That being said, here is my caveat: We cannot escape the effects of our cultures unless or until we own, accept, and collectively heal that shadow. We cannot escape the indoctrination of our youth without choosing to do so. I am not exempt of this shadow, despite my family’s actions and teachings, because I grew up in this culture. Yet I can choose to raise my consciousness in every moment and act with Love and Kindness towards all people, and when I forget and do the opposite, I can forgive myself and start over.

    Ever since I was a young child, I have been horrified by cruelty in any form. And yet, doesn’t that very cruelty come from mis-education? When we truly understand our own humanity and relate it to all living things, who can help but feel compassion?

  13. brenda redman

    Love covers the soul so evil can’t get in . So, forgiveness is what fills up and seals the holes the unloved carry . Love is something that we all can produce , but a lot prefer to produce hate and until there is more love sent out than hate , the state of our union will remain in turmoil.

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