When I listen to Lady Gaga Imagine, I am reminded as to why Canadian Pardons are very important. Yes, I am talking about an application that allows an ex-criminal to seal their criminal record and hide it from the public and from employers. I am not going to debate whether the Graham James’ of the world should have their record sealed, only that generally pardons are a good idea. Maybe the most serious of offenders should NOT be forgiven…or should they? I think most would agree, that like pardons, forgiveness is ‘generally’ a good idea. So, lets move on to the topic of forgiveness and leave the debate as to who should and should not be pardoned for another day.
The words “imagine a world without forgiveness” should be added to the lyrics of Lady Gaga’s rendition of Imagine. I love this song. When I hear it, I think of love, kindness and compassion. I think of forgivenss. The word Pardon means to forgive. In 2012, the Parole Board of Canada changed the name to Record Suspension. I can only imagine that they did this because they are no longer in the business of forgiving. Should we forgive ex-offenders? I am saddened by the message our Government is sending.
The Canadian Government is no longer in the business of forgiveness.
Why is forgiveness important to the victim?
Why should you forgive the offender? Because, the quality of your life depends upon it.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. Marcus Aurelius.
I’m not suggesting that it is inappropriate to harbor anger, resentment and hostility when someone offends or harms you. But to harbor it for long periods of time is harmful to you and those around you. It will affect the quality of your relationships with others. It will also affect the quality of your life.
I once read that suffering can make us “bitter” or “better”. What do you choose to be? Though you may never know for sure what your offender is thinking, for most people, it is human nature to feel guilty for our sins. Most offenders will feel guilty for their actions, and perhaps this will console you a bit? For many, this will not take away the pain of suffering and loss.
Most offenders rehabilitate. I have processed thousands of pardon applications where offenders were convicted only once (they learned their lesson the first time), and many who have had several convictions and then one day, decided enough is enough. Despite having possibly a dozen or more offences while a young adult, they may spend the next 20 to 40 years crime free, having learned their lesson and having rehabilitated. Rehabilitation is the norm, not the exception. The pardon (now called Record Suspension), recognizes this fact.
Lady Gaga Imagine Adaptation of John Lennon’s Version)
Imagine a world without forgiveness…
Every time I help someone seal their criminal record with a Pardon (now called Record Suspension), I believe I have made the world a better place because a Record Suspension results in the following benefits:
- it allows the recipient to re-integrate into the work force (in most cases a sealed criminal record won’t hinder employment) and not be dependent upon society; and
- reduces the rate of recidivism (meaning they are less likely to re-offend because the act of forgiveness renews their commitment to lead a law-abiding life, their self-esteem improves and their record does not hinder employment).
Accordingly, Record Suspensions benefit the victims because offenders are less likely to re-offend once their record is suspended. Record Suspensions are win-win for both the (ex) offender and victim.