No One Seems To Be In A Very Forgiving Mood This Ash Wednesday

Well, thanks to a heads-up from CNN food writer Kat Kinsman, I was spared the annual confusion that lasts for a couple of city blocks as you walk past person after person who has apparently been very sloppy with their application of mascara, or has been hit in the forehead by a thrown lump of coal. Today is Ash Wednesday, when Catholics wear ash on their foreheads in commemoration of the forty days of fasting that preceded his crucification. It’s an act of repentance.

But, man, reading through today’s news, or looking elsewhere on the streets, people may be repenting, but they don’t seem to be in a very forgiving mood.

The Times‘ Tyler Kepner says “two-time drug cheat” Manny Ramirez “has no place on the field.” His colleague Jon Caramanica tells Rihanna that it’s fine if she wants to forget that Chris Brown assaulted her two years ago as she celebrates the release of two new songs with him… “but don’t forgive.” Afghanis in Kabul are really, really not accepting NATO commanding general John Allen’s apology for the burning of Korans at Bagram airforce base. Though, “I assure you,” he said. “I promise you … this was NOT intentional in any way.” (That story is strong reminder that people should really never, ever, ever try to occupying another country.) And at the beginning of his latest single, the recently anointed “Hottest MC in the Game,” Rick Ross, says, “God forgives and I don’t.” (That’s the title to his upcoming album.) “That’s one of my many emotions. That’s one of my many flaws. I am flawed. It may not seem that way, but I am. So don’t play with me.”

I’m of a different mindset. Or well, the same mindset, in that I think it’s a flaw to not be able to forgive. I think we should do our best to forgive. It’s actually the forgetting we should avoid.

Being a person who has done lots of stupid stuff in his life, sometimes hurting others in the process, and asked for much forgiveness, I try to give people a break, while also advocating that we all do our best to ensure that truly harmful occurrences don’t happen again. (People who kill people should go to jail.) A day when so many of us are paying our own penance might be a good day to think about this. I mean, think about these people down in Jackson Mississippi that Kim Severson writes about, these wonderful “herpers” who help salamanders cross the Natchez Trace Parkway after heavy rains during mating season. Shouldn’t we extend this same kind of helping hand to our fellow humans? Even a human being as salamander-like as Newt Gingrich. Here’s hoping those guys put on a strong showing at tonight’s debate in Arizona, so this Republican primary can just keep getting crazier and crazier and ever more entertaining.

So maybe none of this is as magnanimous as it sounds. I like watching Manny Ramirez hit baseballs, too. And I would like the chance to do more of that.