By Gabriel Sams
Picture yourself as a Jewish man known as Simon Wiesenthal. You are an inmate at a concentration camp in Poland when you are taken to a room occupied by Karl, a dying SS soldier. He confesses to a horrid crime of killing many innocent Jewish men, women, and children. He then asks for forgiveness. The man begs and pleads for an end to his guilt before he dies. Would you forgive this man?
Mark Twain once said “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.” Forgiving is hard. Sometimes it feels like you’ve been crushed, but letting go of these emotions helps you to spring back up. But what does it mean to forgive? Well, mostly it means letting go of the grudges you hold against whatever you’re forgiving. But when you forgive, you change your view on whatever happened. Angelina Haupt says that “By letting go, you give up your role as the victim and become equals again.” After forgiveness, you give up being the one who was wronged and leave it behind along with whatever bad emotions came with it. Simon Wiesenthal was forced into a choice of to forgive or not, but what about the man named Karl?
Karl was on his death bed, pleading for forgiveness for what he’s done. All he asks is that Simon “will grant him a final wish… the wish of forgiveness.” (The Sunflower) He was sincerely apologizing for what he did. The word “sorry” has been completely overused by everyone. We’ve used it so often that it’s meaningless. It’s almost become immediate when we’ve done something wrong. We just say “Oops, sorry” and forget about it, but to truly apologize, it has to be sincere and from the heart. If I were in Karl’s position, the guilt I would feel would be horrendous. I would probably break down crying and beg for mercy and forgiveness. But how do you say “I’m Sorry”? in a way that is meaningful? Well, you don’t. To truly apologize, it has to be personal. You change what you say according to what you did. When you take the time to personalize your apology, then it is truly sincere.
When Karl begged to be forgiven, Simon said nothing and left him on his death bed. I then asked myself: “Would I do that”? Well, the short answer is