Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

For Shooters of Students, Can Forgiveness Ever Be Obtained?

with 10 comments

The title thought is what has been going through my mind, ever since I heard about the latest school shooting. Because I just don’t understand why, over and over and over again, we have shooting after shooting, killing after killing, and nothing at all seems to be getting done to prevent it from happening with such great frequency.

I don’t know if forgiveness can ever be obtained for people like the latest shooter, a seventeen-year-old boy (who, as per my policy, I will not name). Someone that young, that troubled, that upset, or that evil, is someone I don’t know how to help and don’t know how to reach.

Among those who are confirmed dead in this latest shooting (this time at Santa Fe High School in Texas) are a foreign exchange student from Pakistan, two teachers, and a number of other young students. They all had worth and value to their families, their friends, and to the world in general, whether they knew it or not…they helped to make up the fabric of our society, and were perhaps the best of what we are.

Questioners. Students. Learners. Teachers.

I have no way to forgive the latest shooter, in my heart. I just can’t do it.

In fact, the only thing that’s given me any solace regarding the latest in these series of deadly school shootings is Linkin Park’s song “What I’ve Done.” I first heard it years ago, when I didn’t know who the band was, or why they were writing it, but the song struck a chord in me then that was so powerful, I remembered enough of the song to find it again now, when I needed it the most.


In this video of “What I’ve Done,” there are all sorts of unforgivable things referenced, along with a few good things. This helps to remind you that no matter how bad things have gotten, and no matter what evil may have happened, the sun will come up tomorrow and there will be at least one good thing there to brighten your day if you look hard enough.

While I think that’s true, I also know that it gets harder and harder to look for those good things.

Now, does that mean you should stop looking for them? Absolutely not.

We have to keep looking for positive things. We have to believe that tomorrow will be better than today, or at least different…we have to believe that somewhere, somehow, someday, we will find a way to prevent at least a few of these horrendous actions, so more people will live, and less people will have to face up to their truly unforgivable actions.

But for now, all I can ask, again and again, is the title question: Can forgiveness ever be obtained for those who shoot up schools? (Or movie theaters, or concerts, or any place innocent people assemble, who just want to be living their lives in peace and without fear of random gunmen.)

If you have any answers for me, let me know in the comments. (Thanks.)

10 Responses

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  1. To be blunt, while Christians (and other good people) should forgive, such forgiveness is only for those who actually seek forgiveness.

    The most IMO we can/should do about such unrepentant people is to prevent hatred toward them to build in our hearts/minds.

    It’s not always easy.

    Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    May 21, 2018 at 8:47 am

    • That’s a good thought, Paul. I definitely don’t hate this guy, though I am saddened by him, and also disgusted.

      Michael (my late husband) used to make the same point. He said that if someone does not ask for forgiveness, whether or not we can forgive is moot. He also said that if we can do it anyway, good — but we should not stay around to let that person sin against us again and again (he didn’t say “sin,” but that was what he meant) unless that person had asked for forgiveness and was obviously trying to do better.

      Barb Caffrey

      May 21, 2018 at 3:40 pm

  2. This is the great challenge. Can we truly ever forgive when the act bite deep into what we hold true and cherish. I’ve been working on this for nearly half of my 67 years and still can’t come even close.
    In the background though and in the deepest part of our hearts we hold to the Truth that God Forgives us, all if we are willing to accept His Mercy.
    Sometimes thought the best we can do is to stifle the Anger and refuse to spread The Hate, and God knows that is hard enough for us.

    Woebegone but Hopeful

    May 21, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    • Very well said, Roger.

      I do hope those ten innocent souls who went to meet their Maker are being feted in the afterlife as they deserve.

      Barb Caffrey

      May 21, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      • Thank you Barb.
        I am sure it will be so.
        As our Muslim brothers and sisters in faith would say ‘Allah The Merciful. Allah The Just’

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        May 22, 2018 at 2:16 am

      • 🙂

        Barb Caffrey

        May 22, 2018 at 5:55 pm

  3. I have no answers … only the same questions that you ask. And like you, I cannot find it in my heart to forgive somebody who takes the lives of children … of anybody … for no reason at all. I think there are some things that are unforgivable, and when I hear a mother say that she forgives the murderer of her child, I find it hard to believe that she truly feels that way.


    May 21, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    • Thanks, Jill, for reading and commenting.

      Yeah. I just do not get it. But there are some folks out there who believe that they should forgive these terrible things, and maybe for themselves, that is the right thing to do.

      But for something like this, forgiveness is very hard. And I just don’t think it’s possible; even if ten years from now, this kid suddenly wakes up and goes, “OMG, what did I do?” and asks for forgiveness, I am going to have a hard time even then with this ’cause of all the innocent lives taken this particular day.

      Barb Caffrey

      May 21, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      • Agreed, lives lost cannot be replaced … no amount of remorse, no number of apologies, can ease the pain of losing a child. And frankly, if you saw pictures of this kid smirking after his arrest, I don’t foresee him ever genuinely asking to be forgiven. But, not my job to judge him … thankfully, for I would send him to the harshest prison for 50 years.


        May 22, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      • Yeah, I did see that kid and his dead-eyed grin. That’s probably why I wrote this out in this particular way; I just can’t forgive and I will never forget.

        Barb Caffrey

        May 23, 2018 at 5:02 pm

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