Strength in Forgiving
“When absent of positive heroes, a society will choose others as it did in Nazi Germany and Serbia. The choice of the wrong heroes, then, sets in motion a negative energy more powerful than nuclear fission” (Harper). In Charles Harper’s article, “How We Should Choose Our Heroes,” he emphasizes the importance that heroes play in our culture and society altogether. From this, it makes us think about the kind of heroes we have chosen to look up to and if they are a good example. We look at who we are as a person and whom we hope to be in the future to see if the person that we are admiring is worthy of our praise and affection. In today’s society, we tend to gravitate towards those who have fame and fortune but tend to overlook the everyday heroes we encounter. The boy who dared to stand up to the playground bully, the selfless firefighter who risks his life every time he runs into a burning building to save someone or the caring volunteer that spends their days working at the nursing home. These are the heroes that should be our role models or whom we look to when we need advice. Each one represents a true hero because they were willing to put other people's needs before their own. A hero is a person who has the bravery to face adversity head-on and can do the hard things like showing compassion to everyone, even to those who seem like they do not deserve it.
Someone who embodies that is a well-known author and leader Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom played a vital role in the Dutch underground during World War II which was devoted to saving Jews from imprisonment. Ten Boom grew up in the small city Haarlem in Holland with her three older siblings and her parents in a devout Christian household. From a small age, her parents were always giving what little they had to others who had less, which built the foundation of her generosity and selflessness. As she grew up, she spent her days helping others by working with children who were mentally disabled or opening her house to provide coffee and cake to passersby. When Germans took over Holland in 1940, Ten Boom was devoted to helping Jews escape from Holland through her home which they called “the Beje” that served as a hub for the Dutch underground. When the war ended, ten Boom spent the rest of her life teaching people about love and forgiveness around the globe and wrote multiple books about her experiences during World War II and her faith. During the war, ten Boom saved hundreds of Jews from captivity all from her small Beje in Haarlem. Her courage to defy direct orders to do what was right and protect others allowed hundreds of Jews to have a second chance at life. Even after her release from the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp, she devoted her life to teaching others about love and forgiveness. She did this by forgiving guards that were in charge of her imprisonment during the war and creating centers where people that worked with the Germans were allowed to live and feel safe. Ten Boom serves as an inspiration to all because of her courage to stand up to brutal and unjust forces and her forgiving nature that allowed her to forgive those who have wronged her in the past.
Corrie ten Boom’s courage and bravery to protect those who were maltreated displays her heroism. During World War II, ten Boom served as a beacon of light to those who saw the world as dark and hopeless: “Ten Boom and her sister began taking in refugees, some of whom were Jews, others members of the resistance movement the Gestapo, or German secret police, and its Dutch counterpart were seeking” (Corrie ten Boom). Her family’s devout religious beliefs encouraged them to serve others, and when the war came around, it allowed them to see Jews as equals instead of inferior. When no one would show mercy or compassion toward Jews, the ten Boom family accepted and protected them from those who did not. Ten Boom knew what she was getting into and the consequences that would take place if she was ever found out, but she still believed this was the right thing to do. Her bravery shows us what great things can happen just from standing up for what is right even if things have to be sacrificed and risked along the way. In Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, ten Boom tells of the time when she helped her neighbor and his family escape from Holland which was under German occupation at the time:
Someone had to go, and I was the obvious choice. Dutch trains were dirty and overcrowded under German rule; the trip that should have taken under an hour took nearly three. Willem was not there when I finally reached the big nursing home just after noon, but Tine and their twenty-two-year-old son Kik were. I told them what had happened on the Barteljorisstraat and gave them the Amsterdam address. (Ten Boom 87)
These actions were ten Boom’s first taste of what the Dutch underground would be like; it was full of risk and danger and yet she was adamant on being a part of it this cause that was bigger than herself. Her decision to put everything on the line with this action built her foundation into being one of the selfless leaders of the organization that would’ve sacrificed anything to save others. Her lack of hesitation and initiative is a clear sign of her bravery for her willingness to drop everything and to put everything she knew and loved in danger to help her fellow man shows she is not afraid to come face to face with conflict. She jumps at the opportunity to step up and help people when no one else would and inspires others to do the same. Ten Boom’s courage enabled her and her family to make the ultimate sacrifice to save those who were innocent and deserved to live.
Ten Boom’s forgiving nature toward others who were malign toward her in the past makes her an inspiring role model and have the ability to change others. After she finished a message at a church, she was approached by a man who turned out to be a former guard at one of the concentration camps she was kept at who was begging for forgiveness:
“And I stood there–I whose sins had every day to be forgiven–and could not. Betsie had died in that place–could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me, it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it–I knew that.” (Guideposts)
Ten Boom lived her life teaching and practicing forgiveness. So when the ultimate test came in the form of a former soldier atoning for his past mistakes, she was able to do the hardest thing and forgive him even though she had every right to turn him away. Her ability to forgive allows us to look at our grudges and realize how much they burden us. Forgiving someone is one of the hardest things anyone can do because we have to be able to look past their actions and swallow our pride to see the person they are today. How ten Boom can so easily do the single most difficult thing every human struggles with is amazing and motivates us to follow in her footsteps. During a time when the world was recovering from the war, Ten Boom welcomed everyone with open arms, even those who were working with the Germans: “This refugee center, in the true spirit of love and forgiveness for which Corrie ten Boom became known worldwide, also housed and cared for the jobless and homeless Dutch who had collaborated with the Germans during the war. In 1950 the center opened its doors to anyone in need of care” (Barnes, Stephan). Ten Boom’s strong belief in forgiving others allowed her to create safe spaces for those seeking compassion and redemption. Through these actions, ten Boom demonstrates her devotion toward forgiving others and emphasizes the importance of letting go of resentment. The way she can forgive the perceiving unforgivable and embrace those who betrayed her makes her inspiring and a leader to look toward during times of confusion and struggle. Her ability to forgive and show compassion to someone who wronged her in so many ways is impressive and nothing short of heroic.
Corrie ten Boom has demonstrated her bravery through her need to help those in need and her compassion towards others from the challenges and hardships that came her way. The love and compassion that she carries enable her to have a forgiving nature that society can learn from and incorporate into their own lives. Ten Boom once said: "Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and shackles of selfishness" (Ten Boom). Ten Boom teaches us the value and importance of forgiving others and showing them compassion and kindness. When we can look past someone's actions and forgive them, a burden is lifted, and we become better for it. Forgiving others is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and courage. Throughout ten Boom’s life, she showed courage in remarkable ways and proves that bravery is not just jumping out of a plane, but that it is also sacrificing yourself to help others. Ten Boom is an inspiration because of her selfless and courageous actions that enabled her to make the hardest choices and risk everything so that others could have another chance at life. In an article, ten Boom wrote: “Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that” (Guideposts). Ten Boom has seen the ramifications of holding anger in our hearts and explains that how at the end of the day, it does not matter if you were able to hold on to your pride and dignity if you are carrying a rock full of resentment in your heart every day. She was just an everyday watchmaker that saved hundreds of lives. Her actions allow people to know that they do not have to be smart or wealthy to be a hero. You can be a hero by just being willing to do the right thing even if it is the harder path. She encourages us to look outside of our lives and see the hardships that others go through and aid them to the best of our abilities. Ten Boom was devoted to helping others throughout her life whether that be clearing someone's guilty conscience or helping a Jew find a safe home. Every action that she put out into the world was to help someone else which is genuinely heroic.
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Last edited 9/3/2021 5:24:49 AM