Learning How to Forgive
I don't subscribe to the idea people a- bad and I I don't subscribe to that because I believe that these inherent good in everyone. I think that crime It's all to be honest with you. Very relative What might be criminal in. Some communities are excused in other communities. Delia Muna was born in London and raised in Nigeria. Her mother is Nigerian and her father is from Sierra Leone. She went to college and Law School in the United States and then she became a public defender in Washington. Dc main motivation for me is that throughout my time as a public defender. I and as a Christian I operate from the presume that if Jesus swear on earth today he'd be a public defender. He was always defending people who were accused of various Nefarious activities Tax Collectors and you know Prostitutes and and and people that we will consider unsavory but as a public defender. I got to learn and appreciate that. Each person has a story and that my role as an advocate was to tell that story in a way that will shoot to the lead experiences to give voice to them I learned to appreciate the fact that but for the grace of God Right. and fat Human beings have the capacity for change today. We're talking about forgiveness. I'm phoebe judge. This is criminal I'd like to ask you about where you grew up in Nigeria and and how growing up. You saw forgiveness injustice Criminality in differently than than we do here right. So we're very very communal society and so compared to to the US where It seems that we exist in silos and a very much individual pull yourself up by your bootstraps sort of mentality in Nigeria we. It's sort of those mentality that if one person is going astray we all collectively are going astray. And so the idea is You know we rally people will rally around you to make sure that That you don't go astray and that if you do that there are resources particularly human resources to help you Sorta recalibrate Your life trajectory And that's really critically important. I guess it's kind of a flip the whole idea in on the head which is in other communities when someone does something bad it it looks bad upon the community. Exactly as opposed to here. Where if someone does something bad when this person must be intrinsically bad or evil and let's remove them from the society? Oh yes absolutely. You absolutely correct here. It's you did something you something that you did and in other communities. It's like well what? How did we fail? How could we have prevented this? And now that you have indeed some done something. What can we do to restore your humanity? What can we do to make sure that you become one of us The question becomes. When is enough enough? When is punishment enough? When can we say you have paid your dues? It's time to welcome you back into society because we still think you've got value. We still think there's much more that you can add to being a productive member of our community in two thousand eleven a twenty five year old woman Nimble Shonda Armstrong drove her car. Into New York's Hudson River with her three children inside later. Leshan to Armstrong's neighbors came forward and said they knew she was in trouble. The often heard yelling. Her landlord leader said that she asked him twice in six months to change the locks on her doors. Delia Luna wrote about Louis Armstrong and other women who'd committed similar crimes she asks how is it that American society bears no social responsibility to support. Its most vulnerable members. In raising their children she proposes that we watch out for each other not just watch each other but really look out and offer help as she says communities in Nigeria. Often do she writes. It's imperative that the legal system take steps to foster a sense of communal obligation towards the most vulnerable members of our society single mothers and their children in two thousand fifteen delia. Muna was made clinical professor of law at Harvard. The law school's first Nigerian professor. She's also the deputy director of Harvard's Criminal Justice Institute where Third Year Law Students under supervision. Essentially work is public defenders. We asked her to tell us about the cases that stay with her the most and she says it's the ones where children are charged with crimes. She told us about representing a nine year old girl and she was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and she was charged because while Throwing ten from classroom. She picked up a book a textbook and threw it at a teacher. Miss the teacher. The book hit the wall The child was promptly taken to a The principal's office and when she got there she was then arrested put in handcuffs. She was transported at the back of a police car and brought to the courthouse. She had to be placed in isolation so in solitary because she was nine years old and I went into speak with her so she is tiny little person and I was trying to explain to her. What my role was as her attorney and advocate and she had no idea Just even process in what that meant and she looked at me and she said where's my grandmother. And when can she take me back to school and then she said to me? Do you have any food? I'm hungry and so there. I was trying to figure out how to advocate for this child. In light of the very serious thing that she'd been charged with I mean assault with a dangerous weapon. book But clearly this child at other issues that we're contributing to Her behavior in class that day and he really will have been a very cruel and capricious thing for the legal system to continue. Its prosecution of her. It's easy to forgive a child and to consider all the social factors in play in their behavior. It's not always so easy to forgive adult. Well that's correct I it's easy when you paint a picture of a very vulnerable child but what about those evil adults and evil men and women who do such terrible things well. The truth is A An an an evil adult or terrible adult just didn't You know pop from just didn't become that way. They've had most likely a terrible childhood A childhood where they will likely abused likely neglected. And so you have children who wants. That's happened to them will indeed grow up to be adults who then Commit crimes I don't ever believe that an adult just takes actions without something being the catalyst for whatever it is. They that they've done and so it might be easier to forgive a child but if you delve deeper into the experiences the lived experience of an adult I think it makes it easier to forgive them once. You understand what it is that they've been through The prism through which they view life and sort of. What's happened to them?