...not rejoicing when the man who may be the masked executioner, the one seen wielding a sword and shouting, "Allu akhbar!" before decapitating your son on a grisly video splashed all over the Internet for the world to see ... Forgiveness is not rejoicing when he is killed.
Such is forgiveness for Michael Berg, father of Nick, beheaded by hooded hoodlums in Iraq in May 2004.
And if some day before I die, I can actually have reconciliation with my son’s murderers, I will know that it is On Earth as it is in Heaven! And so, now, this is as close as I’ve come, on my long journey to that fiftieth, but oh so most important ingredient for peace. Peace within my own heart. Forgiveness not revenge, love and not hate.Read Mike's entire speech, "On Earth as It Is in Heaven," given on October 27, 2005, at Villanova University, when he was awarded the Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova 2005 Peace Award.
I thought about this speech today because Mike has been the subject (or rather, the object) of interviews these last couple of days, following the announcement of the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, believed to have been Nick's brutal murderer. I've read the transcripts of several of the conversations, and the interviewers do no honor to their profession. Their questions are often phrased in cynical terms, obviously with the intent of evoking statements from Mike that can be ridiculed later on. Interviewers usually cut Mike's comments short, just when he is about to speak at greater length about forgiveness, about ending the cycle of revenge, about all of us being linked by a common humanity, regardless of the nation, the tribe, or the insurgent group we may belong to.
I have had the privilege to know Mike Berg, even to embrace him. I am a richer, better person for knowing him.
Forgiveness is Mike Berg.