Because I am a wordsmith by nature, my first stop was the Oxford English Dictionary to look up the etymology of the word amnesty. It comes from Greek roots and means amnesia!
One of its meanings is oblivion. Another is its more common meaning: an intentional overlooking.
There is not a soul on earth who doesn’t at one time or another need amnesty.
I recall a time when I was less than fully present to someone who needed me deeply. He was grieving for the accidental death of his older brother, and I could not find it in me to be present to the experience because I too was grieving. I suppose this excuses my behavior, but to my most truthful self, it really doesn’t. My beloved friend needed me. I let him down. Many years later, long after he’d forgotten my transgression, I hadn’t forgotten it. I needed amnesty from him.
Fortunately, we remained friends, so I called him and asked for forgiveness, an intentional overlooking of my less than cleanly intentional behavior at the time. The amnesty I needed was instantly forthcoming.
In this particular case, I was sorry for what I’d done, but what about those who are unrepentant? They need amnesty even more! I can’t begin to explain or understand the motivations of those who flew the planes into the World Trade Towers on 9/11, but I do know that for as long as I fear them or revile them, they will remain an unsavory influence in my soul.
I want my soul to have a better ride for this lifetime so I offer them amnesty. No blame, no need for explanations (how could they possibly help?). No, just intentional overlooking of their deeds because of who they are: humans made by God, just like me.
For those of you reading these words, consider taking action please. Where you need amnesty in your life, go and request it of those from whom you need it. Where you need to offer amnesty, go and do it!
My title rephrases the last line of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Wouldn’t this be an amazing planet if we all offered and received amnesty—the intentional overlooking of our faults and missteps? And wouldn’t we all sleep better knowing that unforgiveness was a thing of the past.
Amnesty for all, and to all a good night.