The Ultimate And Great Power of Forgiveness
WBC ring officials Frank Garza has kept us informed about this horrendous situation which has now turned into an example of humanity giving anyone who reads it hope for a better world. The WBC through its BoxVal ( Boxing with Values ) program from Pope Francis foundation Scholas Ocurrentes has been involved in supporting this brave man and hero for humanity Ralph White.
What kind of rage is deep inside and gnawing within a certain young man, who almost beats to death an elderly gentleman, who`s fifty-four years older than him, because of an accidental collision of cars?
A beating which leaves that senior citizen hospitalized, then needing the care of a hospice for four more months, after being left with a purple patchwork of facial injuries including fractures and a brain bleed.
How great for that eighty six year old man to do what most of us could never even contemplate, let alone do! To actually forgive that terrible, disgusting violence and pray for his aggressor, who`s now serving five to seven and a half years in prison for an act of savagery. An incomprehensible wickedness.
Travonce Backie aged 32 is behind bars after pleading guilty and being convicted of attacking 86 year old retired steel worker Ralph White in Canton, Ohio on February 27th last year, in a manner which is hard to fathom. In legal terms, a felonious assault. Backie claims he was under the influence of drugs which he says someone had slipped into his drink in a bar. A cock and bull story, which neither explains the appalling nature of the attack nor the inner demons, which fuelled that cowardly repugnant rage. It just wouldn`t be right to call this rage bestial. As Mark Twain wrote in The Mysterious Stranger, this wasn`t a brutal attack, it was HUMAN . Animals simply don`t lower and demean themselves with this type of cruelty.
Similar to Tony Zale who worked in the Pittsburgh steel mills before opting for a brilliant boxing career, some of that resilience has seeped through to Ralph. He`s a tough, tough, brave, brave man. And somehow…he`s recovered. But, for quite some time, he slept for up to six hours during the day, while he was on the mend. The love of his Wife of sixty-seven years and his family, helped him physically recuperate.
Psychologically he healed himself. With the conviction of faith, he quietly but firmly insists: “Don`t hold grudges against people, because grudges will kill you. I believe Mr Backie will come out of prison a much better man. As soon as I get the OK, I want to send him a Bible. I`m praying for him and I want everyone to pray for him. If he walked in here now, I would hug him. I forgive him.”
This is the sort of power is incredibly humbling. It brings tears to the eyes of those who care and have a heart. It is nothing short of absolutely fantastic.
Hopefully Mr Backie will in the future be able to apologize to Mr White in person and humbly thank him for his forgiveness on bended knee, because it`s already been granted.
The World Boxing Council has already sent Mr White a medal, for his outstanding bravery, but above all, his tremendous capacity for forgiveness which transcends this horrendously appalling act of violence.
The World Boxing Council is also going to send two WBC jackets. One for Mr White, to keep out the winter cold. And the other for Mr Backie, so that he can come back in from the cold and utter outer darkness, into which he`s cast himself, while reflecting on what he has done and the harm he has caused. If Mr White can forgive him, we should try our utmost to follow his example.
Martin Luther King said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
Mr White`s forgiveness is a shining example of pure goodness, decency, strength and the courage of faith, which we should all heed as well as applaud. To sin is human. To forgive is…divine.