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The good-for-nothing brother killed the beloved nobleman (and stole his identity).Now the townspeople want to see him lynched or burned alive, and it is only the priest who – consistently – offers a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection.The priest tells them: It seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful.You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions.The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: “Master, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews.How many Virtue Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds? The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why.He further notes that this is why the townspeople can self-righteously consider themselves more compassionate and forgiving than he is.Actual forgiveness, the kind the priest needs to cultivate to forgive evildoers, is really really hard.
After some thought I agree with Chesterton’s point.Heck, the Nazis were actually moderately positively disposed to the Chinese, even when they were technically at war. Anyone in the former Yugoslavia and anyone else in the former Yugoslavia. Find the Yugoslavian ethnicity that lives closely intermingled with them and is most conspicuously similar to them, and chances are you’ll find the one who they have eight hundred years of seething hatred toward. The answer with Germans and Japanese is obvious – a strategic alliance.Meanwhile, the conflict between the Nazis and the German Jews – some of whom didn’t even realize they were anything other than German until they checked their grandparents’ birth certificate – is the stuff of history and nightmares. In fact, the World Wars forged a lot of unexpected temporary pseudo-friendships.I want to avoid a very easy trap, which is saying that outgroups are about how different you are, or how hostile you are. Compare the Nazis to the German Jews and to the Japanese.The Nazis were very similar to the German Jews: they looked the same, spoke the same language, came from a similar culture.
In Chesterton’s The Secret of Father Brown, a beloved nobleman who murdered his good-for-nothing brother in a duel thirty years ago returns to his hometown wracked by guilt.