Man With New Titanium Jaw Isn't Mad at Thugs Who Gave It to Him
The Washington Post has a story about Trell Thomas, a 26-year-old man who was attacked on the evening of Labor Day in the center of Washington, D.C. He was minding his own business, waiting for a bus, when 10 youth surrounded him and pounded him with their fists, breaking his jaw. He fled, stumbling up a busy street. They also tried to rob him as motorists passed him, unwilling to help.
His jaw now contains three permanent titanium plates. But Thomas, who runs an internship program to get youth involved in "immigrant rights, health care, and racial and social justice," isn't mad at the 16- to 18-year-olds who attacked him.
Thomas didn’t want his employer to be identified in the newspaper, for fear that the guilty parties might find it easier to track him down. But he did want to speak out — not to condemn his attackers but to call attention to whatever drove them to behave that way. “I don’t want to be angry with them,”Thomas said. “It just concerns me that their future is being taken away from them, by them, so early.”
He continued: “I’ve already got the bruises and stuff. I want to put a message out that we hear you. . . . We don’t want you to be out here robbing people and hurting people to displace your anger, or to feel that this is what you need to do to get food on the table, or to get the help and attention that you deserve, or to have a bond by attacking people together.”
Now, as a Christian, I aim to forgive those who attack or persecute me. But there is a difference between forgiving those who do wrong and excusing that wrongdoing. And excusing sinful or criminal behavior serves no one.
I, too, am sad that Washington, D.C., the city I love and lived in for 15 years is full of violent attacks. I recognize that the reasons for this violence and decay aren't simply about immoral behavior of individuals. But they are at the very least about immorality.
I can't help but read excuse-mongering such as above as anything else other than an attack on people with financial and familial problems. I have known more than my fair share of people who are poor or without benefit of a stable family and yet they behaved admirably under pressure.
It's great that Thomas isn't consumed with rage against his attackers. But if he truly cares about social justice, he should remember that justice requires acknowledgement of guilt.