No matter how extreme the circumstances, compassion is possible.
Once on the train from Washington to Philadelphia, I found myself seated next to a man who ran a rehabilitation program for juvenile offenders in the district of Colombia. Most of the youths he worked with were gang members who had committed homicide.
One fourteen-year-old boy in his program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to provehimself to his gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared directly at him and stated, ”I’m going to kill you.” Then the youth was taken away to serve several years in the juvenile facility.
After the first half year the mother of the slain child went to visit his killer. He had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor he’d had. For a time they talked, and when she left she gave him some money for cigarettets. Then she started step by step to visit him more regularly, bringing food and small gifts. Near the end of his three-year sentence she asked him what he would be doing when he got out.
He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to help set him up with a job at a freind’s company. Then she inquired about where he would live,and sine he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home.
For eight months he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job. Then one evening she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite […]