Paul Gutteridge
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29 May, 2020

For those of us in the UK, we would have to be living under a rock to miss the unfolding drama surrounding the journey from London to Durham and subsequent activities of Dominic Cummings (the PM's Advisor) and his family at the height of Covid-19 pandemic. There are three elements to this that strike me - the event, the person (Dominic Cummings), and our reaction to both.

On the event and the person there continues to be many column inches devoted to analyzing, dissecting, and commenting on the event and the person  - and it appears some want to ask many more questions.

However, the visceral reaction to the event and the person has been palpable, and with national significance!

With such Cummings and goings - excuse the pun - what can an honest, unselfish, loving and pure reaction look like?

Cummings and Goings - forgiveness
In faith traditions, the idea of forgiveness sits at the heart of what it means to be a person of faith. Now, forgiveness is not some soft option, it is a hard road - recognizing there are standards that we live our lives against. These standards are not meant to limiting us, but to liberate us to be fully human. Such forgiveness, when extended to someone else, recognizes that something has been done to violate a standard and, in many cases, has impacted us. The level of anger directed at Mr Cummings has been a reaction to a perception that he has violated a standard that has impacted us.

Cummings and Goings - consequences
If, in order to forgive we recognize that a standard has been violated the impacts us, what next? WE - not THEM, not the OTHER take the first step. We give first - we for-give. But, let's be honest, we don't always feel that someone should be forgiven for something, they should pay the price, feel the pain, make atonement, learn the lesson and the like. Well, perhaps they will and, in some cases, they should experience the consequences of their actions.

Cummings and Goings - mercy
At the heart of forgiveness is mercy. Mercy is about NOT giving someone what they DO deserve. Ok, we do need to face the consequences of our actions but how do we provide people the space to move on, to grow, to flourish, to live again? In order to forgive we take the first step - we settle something in our own hearts - we offer mercy. We lay aside the temptation to allow the venom of anger and un-forgiveness to poison us. I know first-hand what it is like to allow this poison to overcome my heart and thank God - literally - I have found freedom by extending mercy to those who violated me.

The tip of an iceberg
Our national reaction to this present situation is the tip of an iceberg of how we hold onto the wrongs done to us and to others. How can we, at IofC, be part of living with others to find their way out of such visceral reactions and deeply held pain - and I understand why we would hold these attitudes and feelings? It is the unselfish and loving act of forgiveness that has mercy at its heart. It's being honest enough to acknowledge that we all violate the standards we hold dear. I have needed to draw on a source - I call that source God, you may find another name - to give me the strength for this.

In 1952, Frank Buchman said, 'what we need is something electric - a shock that brings people and nations to their senses before it's too late. Something powerful enough to weld unity out of the hardest of elements.'

Our challenge is to be a people who can allow that 'shock of electricity' to spark change in us to face ourselves in honesty as we become people who extend forgiveness - whether people deserve it or not. By taking this ONE STEP in our families, fellowship and in society, may be the spark that could remake the world!

NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.

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