How Michelle Knight forgave Ariel Castro

Michelle KnightHow Michelle Knight Forgave Ariel Castro

Michelle Knight – “It’s the Way of Life”

When some crazy guy wounded Pope Jean-Paul by taking a pot-shot at him, the Pope forgave him. Everyone thought it was wonderful.

“How could he do it?” people asked. “Well, he’s the Pope,” most people replied. “You’d expect him to, I guess.”

This was hailed as an example of the kind of forgiveness and humility to which we should all aspire.

But it pales into insignificance against the example of forgiveness provided by Michelle Knight, one of the girls kidnapped, locked up, raped and abused for 10+ years by Ariel Castro.

Only one year ago, she and the other two girls were freed. Michelle was interviewed this week on NBC’s Dateline and shook the heck out of the host by saying she had already forgiven Castro.

Jaws must have dropped in every living room in the country when she said that. Dateline is not renowned for doing stories about forgiveness, so it must have been a surprise.

This was no grand gesture by Michelle. She meant it. For her it was simple. “If I did something wrong myself, I would want someone to forgive me. But I have to be willing to forgive first. It’s the way of life,” she said. “He was a human being.”

Yes, we might have expected something akin to this from a Pope, but who would have expected it from any one of those girls?

It seemed so simple when she said it. “It’s the way of life.” I doubt that the Pope could have said it better himself.

And her approach was as close to Radical Forgiveness as it is possible to get without using the words, and as far as I know, she didn’t have to use a worksheet. For her it was self-evident.

There was not a trace of anger in her that I could discern. Is she in denial still? It’s a fair question, but I doubt it.

She may yet need to express a lot of repressed rage, but that doesn’t negate her willingness to forgive now. If she is in denial, it was not evident, and I doubt she could have written a book about the experience if she was still in denial. (The book is called Finding Me, and it came out last weekend.)

Her notion of reciprocity reminded me of a Seattle-based study I wrote about in my first book, Radical Forgiveness, in 1997. It echoes what Michelle said and proves her right.

The study tried to find out how long it took people to forgive someone for something. It went on for some years, and at each meeting nothing much had changed in any of the subjects.

Then all of a sudden a person would report that the negativity had suddenly evaporated and they felt they had finally forgiven.

When the researchers delved further into it, they found that the forgiveness happened more or less immediately after the subjects themselves had been forgiven for something they had done that was quite unrelated to the event in question.

There was apparently a balancing of energies involved. This is what Michelle has intuitively tapped into and had come to realize on her own. I look forward to reading her book.



10 thoughts on “How Michelle Knight forgave Ariel Castro

  1. Christina Masterman

    Very insightful article, thank you Colin. I put my hands up – I haven’t got a clue how forgiveness works, probably pretty much like the majority of us. For me it’s less about ‘how’ it works and more about the conviction, the absolute certainly, just like Michelle Knight, or Pope John Paul, that is does. Hallelujah. What a blessing! Intuition is a very fine thing. It’s our greatest gift and our denial of it, our greatest weakness.

  2. Karina

    Forgiveness is the most beautiful thing there is. Michelle is a great inspiration to me. I am currently struggling with forgiveness myself. Forgiving myself that is. I’m wondering whether it works the same way as forgiving some one else..
    blessings Karina.

  3. Rich Feight

    Thank you for such an inspiring story. I was unaware of what happened and am grateful for your article for shining some light on it. Sometimes when I read something and implement it, such as your worksheets, I’m waiting for the big aha moment. Hearing this story is that aha, albeit, indirectly.

  4. Dinny

    What a beautiful reminder of the authentic self that lives inside all of us, I believe really wanting to show up! She took the straight route of following her desire to be truly happy. I love her book title and I’m looking forward to reading it also!
    Love,, Dinny

  5. Tricia

    I was so hoping you would write about her. Her forgiveness story has inspired me to do this in my own life more than any other person I’ve ever heard. It is profound.

  6. Margaret Taylor

    Thank you, Jo-Ann and Colin, for all your good works.

    It is so inspiring that you are raising the world’s vibration, with your observations and reporting.

    Margaret Taylor.

  7. Mary

    I have started journaling about a particular period in my childhood, and through this writing, I’ve come to feel different about events. It has been a healing process and has helped me empathise and forgive family members. I’m also forgiving myself, I think. Whether doing worksheets or journaling, writing is key to forgiveness for me.

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