SADDAM HUSSEIN: JUSTICE & FORGIVENESS
Forgive those you love, and forgive even more
those you do not love.
The challenge of being spiritual is to learn to forgive.
From: The Calendar of 100 Days
Theexecution of Saddam Hussein on December 30, 2006 gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we understand about compassion and forgiveness, inspired by our awareness of each being as a soul. Though most of us have not been directly affected in a physical sense by the crimes of Saddam against humanity, except to the extent that friends or loved ones served in the two Gulf wars, we are certainly aware of how these crimes were notoriously directed against his own people, how they destroyed the lives of many through their brutality and cruelty, and for this reason they continue to affect us emotionally. It is with this as background that we seek justice, yet we need also to see if, and under what circumstances, forgiveness might be possible. This question asks us to deepen our understanding both of justice, human and Divine, as well as of forgiveness.
First and always, it must be said that forgiveness does not relate to actions; it relates to persons or souls. Actions that incorporate harm to others are against life and carry consequences in a karmic sense. Actions that do great harm involve an even greater responsibility and accountability in this regard. From a spiritual perspective, all actions are weighed within the system of Divine justice known as Karma, and each soul who perpetrates crimes of any nature or harms life in any way will have to experience the consequences of their own behavior because the ‘law of cause and effect’ is universal. So, too, will Saddam Hussein be held accountable within this same system.
The system of Divine justice or Karma does not make unnecessary the system of human justice, for actions occurring within the physical realm interact with a real world of moral rights and obligations, of standards and expectations. However, unlike the human system of justice, Divine justice always moves in the direction of healing and redemption for those whose hearts have hardened toward others. No matter what kind of suffering on an outer level such justice might bring to an individual as a result of the operation of the 'law of cause and effect', its purpose is always benevolent - to bring consciousness back to a path of light and truth. The means by which it does this is to create new experiences for a soul in need of healing that are specific and direct though often painful, so that the embodied soul can make new decisions concerning what is right and what is true. Coming to a new source of motivation may take many lifetimes and much suffering may be involved, but each soul is purified of the darkness they have carried and guided slowly and surely from lifetime to lifetime along a path from which a new construction of personal values can be formed. There are, indeed, souls who can still refuse the light and God's mercy even after experiencing much pain and suffering, but even these are offered the possibility of healing and redemption time and time again.
Regarding forgiveness of the soul including that of Saddam Hussein as an example of one who caused great suffering for many, there is the human perspective which observes his behavior in life, in the courtroom during his trial, and as he approached his death. There is also the spiritual perspective which witnesses what happens to the inner being. From a spiritual perspective, it becomes possible to see what cannot be seen with outer eyes. This view can lead to an understanding of the degree of alignment of consciousness with the outer self that is taking place in an individual - the degree of identification with that self. To put it differently, from this perspective it is possible to see the degree of separation the inner being has from the role that is being played before others. For example, one who is defiant, arrogant, accusatory, and contemptuous on the outside may, on the inside, be experiencing something quite different. Extreme posturing and defiance can be used to convince oneself and others that one still has pride and dignity. It can be used to ward off feelings of humiliation and failure. It all depends upon the degree of identification with the outer self. The degree of alignment of consciousness with the role being acted out and the possibility for a shift away from that role toward a deeper level of identity is the beginning of healing and of redemption.. When such a shift occurs and a gap, however small, is created between the inner and the outer self, then the possibility for healing begins, for this gap signals the awakening of consciousness to a different awareness of itself and of its history in life. It is in this way that those who have committed serious crimes of all kinds can have a change of heart. It may not happen in a moment or in a lifetime and often does not, but there are exceptions to this as well. More often, it takes many lifetimes for the gap to widen between the point of consciousness and the outer self. This allows a gradual movement toward the heart to take place and permits feelings of failure and regret to occur that, despite their fragility, can initiate a healing process.
Most of the time we are not aware of what is going on with another on the soul level, the level of their inner being. Nevertheless, it is not necessary to know specifics in order to know that something is always going on at this level. Forgiveness can be offered to other souls because there is this level - because all are children of God. Forgiveness does not eliminate the need for justice; it stands beside it. It is not offered to the outer self that is willing to continue on a path of darkness, but to the inner self that is a child of God - one who has strayed very far from the light and truth of their own humanity. Forgiveness allows us to pray that such a one find the path of return - that they find their hearts again. No matter what actions a person has committed, it allows us to pray for their healing and their further openness to Divine justice and Divine redemption.
It is natural, of course, to be able to sustain this perspective when actions do not touch us close to home as compared with when we experience harm to ourselves or to those we love. Then, it becomes more difficult to forgive while our hearts and bodies experience extreme pain and loss. Under such circumstances, it is often difficult to find the way to compassion and forgiveness of souls because what we look for is an easing of the pain we feel and a way of symbolically undoing the harm that has been done. It is for this reason that retribution can be comforting. It is because it creates a soothing in relation to pain through the institution of ‘balance’ - through doing to the perpetrator what he or she has done to others. When pain is great, the comfort of retribution is that it creates a sense of justice. It balances the scales of ‘cause and effect’ so that the action that is the source of pain is met with an equal reaction. This layer of comfort is often very small, but without it, those bereft and suffering are sometimes left with the feeling that their insides are screaming for a way to relieve the hurt. Often, it feels like there is no remedy or action at all that can make anything better. Retribution may feel like the only way.
The need for retribution is entirely understandable from a human perspective - from the perspective of a wounded heart - but it is not the response of a heart that is deeply wedded to the principle that all souls, including those who murder, are still children of God. In the wake of the recent execution of Saddam Hussein we are offered an opportunity to reexamine the more personal wounds we have experienced in life for which forgiveness has not yet become possible, to see if another step can be taken in the direction of perceiving the other as a soul – not condoning the actions that were wrong, but acknowledging the Divine essence with which each soul was created and the Divine justice with which each action will be met. These are the facts which make the possibility for healing and redemption an eternal reality.
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For related articles from the Light Omega Newsletter, see also:
The Influence of Darkness on the Consciousness of Man, Feb. 9, 2006
The Sweeping Tide of Revenge, Sept. 13, 2004
The Karma of Power, Aug. 2, 2004