Her latest find was Eric Lomax who died this month at age 93. Lomax was a British Army officer who was captured and tortured by the Japanese during the fall of Singapore in 1942. Savagely beaten, water boarded and forced with thousands of others to build the infamous Burma-to-Siam railroad, featured in the 1957 film "The Bridge on the River Kwai," Lomax deliberately avoided all things Japanese and went more than 45 years without speaking to a Japanese person, embodying a common POW attitude of "don't forget, don't forgive."
However, late in his life after suffering post-traumatic stress for decades, Lomax decided to find the man who had been his principal interrogator during his imprisonment. He wound up finding Takashi Nagase, who had published his own memoir of shame and regret and financed a Buddhist temple at the bridge to atone for his actions during the war. Nagase's story prompted a meeting between the two elderly enemies on the bridge where they had engaged fifty years earlier.
After their meeting, Lomax wrote Nagase a letter assuring him of his total forgiveness and Nagase said, "I think I can die safely now." The meeting between the two was filmed for a television documentary, "Enemy, My Friend?" Lomax later wrote a memoir titled "The Railway Man," which is now being made into a movie, starring Colin Firth.
Extreme forgiveness. How does one forgive the most unimaginable cruelty? What is that first step of letting go of that pain and anger? And, if Eric Lomax can forgive the man who tortured him, can those of us who carry such minor, everyday wrongs, not do likewise?
And, a question that has always confounded me … is it necessary for the other person to apologize before forgiveness can be granted? Perhaps it's a two-step process … I can let go of anger and hurt … but, before there is that slate-cleaning moment, the other person has to express sorrow and request forgiveness. Then there is reconciliation.
About this image: Crack in the World
Perhaps the first step in forgiveness and reconciliation is that both hearts have to crack open.