Month: February 2016

Forgiveness

My last blog went viral. It just goes to show the power of words and indeed the power of social media. I was angry. I was outraged. A valued member of my community was racially bashed and we all felt it like a punch to the guts. It winded me with sorrow. Outrage is like a fire and it certainly fanned up a lot of angry responses.

But today’s blog is about something that probably won’t go viral because it isn’t about rage, it’s about forgiveness. The word itself viral suggests sickness. Certainly my blog was about a sickness, the disease of racism. Subjects that expose the ugly, the sick, the evil, they tend to spread like wildfire. Golly gosh, human beings love outrage. But the subject of forgiveness is about healing. And that’s the lesson I’ve learned through this awful local attack on good people.

Paul Shin has forgiven the boy who attacked him. That right there is the story. That right there is the diamond in this coal mine. A middle-aged Korean man was bashed, racially abused and had to cradle and comfort his wife who was also injured in the attack. Paul Shin has forgiven the boy who did this to them. I am tearing up and emotional just writing that.

They say forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and the prisoner is the person doing the forgiving. After months of being targeted by unknown local arseholes, Paul Shin has set himself free by forgiving his seventeen year old attacker. He has said that the boy is at a crossroads in life and can take a good way or the dark way and he has encouraged the boy to take the good path in life.

Until you understand remorse you can’t really grasp true forgiveness. To have done the wrong thing and to have been forgiven is truly humbling. Remorse does not equal saying the word sorry. It must involve amends. Forgiveness is way harder to master than saying sorry.

I hope the boy involved in this crime (yes crime….not silly childish behaviour) understands the incredible gift Paul has given him. It is quite possibly the greatest gift he will ever receive. I hope with all my heart he doesn’t squander it. I hope his mother reinforces this with her son.

The local police officer quoted in my blog has now acknowledged there was a racial element to the assault which he finds disturbing and he sees Paul Shin’s acceptance of the boy’s apology as an incredible gesture of forgiveness. It is an incredible gesture and one we can all learn from – the community, the police, the media and the youths involved.

A racial assault on an innocent couple is more than just a mistake; it is a gaping cavern of awfulness. Paul’s forgiveness for that act is above all else showing that boy how to be a real and good and awe-inspiring man. Please, please, please young man, take heed, learn, be humbled, embrace your victim’s generosity of spirit and take it into the rest of your life.

The ball’s in your court kiddo. Grow up. Be a good man. Be like Paul.

 

Photo credit Brooke Rushton

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Something Rotten in the Town of Terrigal

Let me introduce you to Paul and Isabella Shin, Korean-born proprietors of The Little Shop in Terrigal. These people are the reason many locals stop by for a coffee anytime, every time they pass by. Paul greets his customers with an unforgettably wide smile and a genuine enthusiasm for their company. This welcoming sense of joy is why the locals refer to the store as The Happiest Little Shop in Terrigal, nay, in all of the Central Coast. Paul greets my children of a morning, on their way to school, with the mantra ‘have good study’ and it sets the tone for their day.

On the first day of the Australia Day long weekend, Paul and his wife were viciously attacked outside their shop. This came after months of persistent vandalism and abuse levelled at Paul and Isabella’s shop that had become so bad they reached out and asked for police and community assistance. This happy couple were hiding their terror behind smiles and finally just over a week ago, they were confronted by their worst fears. Fists. In their faces!

There was talk that the attack was racially motivated. This sickened and disgusted all of the Shin’s loyal customers and made the locals question the values of the kids who had been responsible for the attack. It made a lot of people very, very angry.

When we heard that Paul, in the wake of the attack was selling his business, it made a lot of people very, very sad. When we heard that Paul had decided, after talking with the mother and school principal of the boy responsible for the attack, to drop all charges and forgive the boy, we were inspired and very, very humbled by his unfathomable generosity of heart.

And then this!

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/central-coast/mother-of-boy-who-bashed-a-koreanborn-shop-owner-says-her-son-is-deeply-sorry-for-his-actions/news-story/40abb5d78bc4f0cd492eed3a4bcf6ce2

The Daily Telegraph and the local Express Advocate printed the worst piece of newsprint I have ever had the misfortune of reading. I can’t tell if the writer, Matt Taylor, was being ironic or genuinely believed the stuff he was writing but the gist of it goes……the police are now PRAISING the boy responsible for the attack and the boy’s mother because she made him apologise to Paul for racially abusing him and bashing him. Yes, you read that right. It gets worse and becomes the most racist piece of enabling rubbish I’ve ever read and it makes me ashamed to listen to one of our local policemen being quoted in the piece, saying ‘When you look at this matter, it wasn’t a racially motivated attack as such. It was children doing the wrong thing who then used racially inappropriate language.’ Excuse me!? Earlier in the same piece the mother of the main boy in the attack admits that her seventeen year old son (a mere child, according to the cop), told Paul to f* off you Asian as he hit Paul. I bought a bottle of water from Paul yesterday and ten days after the attack he is still sporting a black eye! I’m sorry but in anyone’s language, a seventeen year old punching a middle-aged Korean man in the face while calling him a f*ing Asian IS RACIST! To have the boy’s mother, the police and the media suggesting otherwise lets this kid off the hook, enables his behaviour and screams of trivialising racism in this community. And I won’t have it. Terrigal won’t have it.

The article panders vomitously to the attacker and his mother and no-where talks of the terror, the nightmares, the post-traumatic shock of Paul and his wife who are having to sell their store, their livelihood!

It gets worse.

The mother is quoted as saying her son had ‘manned up’ and apologised to Paul. Newsflash. Real men do not have to apologise for bashing a defenceless man while hurling racist insults at him. Real men do not put a middle-aged woman in hospital with injuries caused, according to the mother, when Isabella tried to step in to help her husband so that the boy accidentally elbowed her. She wasn’t merely elbowed. She was hurt so badly and was in such a state of shock that she was hospitalised. How dare this news article trivialise it as a consequence of Isabella walking into the boy’s elbow! What is wrong with the world when the police further trivialise this matter saying that the boys did not act with racial intent but because they were idiots and they were merely acting out of stupidity. The mother says her son realises how ‘silly’ his behaviour was.

I beg to differ, unnamed mother and Commander Superintendent Daniel Sullivan! Bashing a man and hurting women while calling them f*ing Asians is not silly, stupid or idiotic. It is evil.

‘It’s not good that it happened, but it’s a very good lesson for him in not what to do.’

That’s the mother again in the article, being given a voice to wash over her son’s behaviour and nowhere in the article does it even once speak of the lesson learned by Paul and Isabella Shin. I wonder what that lesson might be. The fact that they are selling the business speaks volumes.

This morning Paul has invited the community to a sausage sizzle to thank them for their outpouring of shock and support in the wake of the attack. Hundreds of people will be going to show their support to the happiest, most welcoming friends from The Little Shop. They will be very sorely missed.

What has sickened the community almost as much as the actual attack is the story in the local paper that focuses on the tears of a seventeen year old boy who was forced to apologise.

I wonder if the boy will be ‘manning’ the barbeque!

 

I will add that the journalist, Matt Taylor wrote a much more palatable piece one week earlier that I have been made aware of. To my mind this second piece undoes the good of the first. A journalist must never ASSUME a prior readership for anchoring a piece. The first article calls the attack racist…the second quotes the mother of the main perpetrator and the police as saying that it is not at all a racist attack. This has confused local readers. Does the mother have the right to the microphone? Hmmmm. The MAIN offender is seventeen. I’m not sure he still needs Mum  to go bat for him although as a mother of four sons I can really understand the protective, defensive instinct.

As a mother I understand the maternal instinct to defend your boys and see them in the best light. But I heard nothing of shame or the mother’s concern for how the Shin’s are coping and the remorse for them having to sell up and move in that article I critiqued and I guess that’s why most people found it offensive!

UPDATE

At the request of the writer of the piece I will ask you to read this first article of his and yes, it is a fine piece, but it should have been left there.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/central-coast/koreanborn-shop-owners-bashed-in-racially-motivated-latenight-attack-at-terrigal/news-story/e9871617051020f6ec47f042d4528718

I wish the writer, Matt Taylor, Mr Shin and Mrs Shin, and even the boys responsible and their families a long and happy, non-violent life……it starts with being willing to admit that sometimes you get it wrong.

Namaste Nik.x