This would be a real problem. Megan Gillan, 15, wanted to go to the prom very badly, and planned to attend with some friends. Missing the prom would have been a big disappointment to her. And, she's been dead for a couple months.
Macclesfield High officials might have been a bit nonplussed if Megan had started attending classes regularly. Her body was found January 19.
The letter? It was dated March 16.
No Doubt About it: The School Shouldn't Have Sent That Letter. No How, No Way, No Sir!Headteacher Ged Ward has apologized. Personally. In addition, he has stated that the letter was sent as the result of a software glitch. I'm inclined to believe him.
Capita, the company that publishes SIMS (School Information Management Systems), the software used by Macclesfield High, acknowledges that their software is buggy, and is likely to allow a SNAFU like this to happen.
I'm inclined to believe Capita, too. They were probably counting on relatively few teens dropping dead: and on school administrations being a bit more proactive when it came to correspondence quality control.
The School Did a Bad Thing. Headmaster Ward Did a Bad Thing. Capita Did a Bad Thing.Headmaster Ward should have made sure that the letters he was signing weren't being sent to parents whose children would cause a public scene if they shambled into class. Whoever processed the letters should have made sure that such letters weren't sent.
When I was a list manager, I learned - very early - to do quality control. My guess is that Macclesfield doesn't have a full-time list manager on the staff.
Letting that letter be sent was a bad thing.
It was wrong. It wasn't right. Got it? Okay. Next:
Capita was wrong to release buggy software. Although they may not have been aware of the bugs, or may have assumed that the end users would check their output.
That was wrong, too.
Finally, the Gillams were hurt.
Got that? Bad things were done. People got hurt. Moving along:
Megan Gillam's Parents 'Will Never Forgive the Mistake'I have no doubt that Megan's parents are feeling very bad. They feel hurt because they have been hurt. Sending that letter was, as I said before, wrong. The Gillams have a legitimate complaint.
I trust that restitution will be sought, and made, so that whatever vices were involved will be corrected, and justice maintained. That's not my idea: That's a paraphrase of part of paragraph 2302 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
What?! That Sounds Like VengeanceNo. It's justice. A wrong has been done. It needs to be corrected.
So, They Shouldn't Forgive Whoever They're Angry With?As a Catholic, I'm ordered to forgive those who hurt me. (2840, 2842)
Harm has been done to the Gillams. There's no question about that. Restitution needs to be made: proportional to the harm. That's justice.
Never forgiving is a sort of unjustified anger. That's a sin. It's also stupid.
The Gillams would be well advised to change their policy, and forgive those who wronged them.
I didn't say, 'claim that no wrong was done.' Or, 'pretend that they weren't hurt.' That would be also be stupid.
I won't go into the psychobabble about what nursing a grudge and not letting anger go does to the people who indulge in such things. If you're an American, or have paid attention to American pop culture over the last decade or so, you've probably heard about it.
Anger issues are nothing new. About 20 centuries back, someone wrote:
"Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' Rather, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.' Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good." (Romans 12: 19-21)About 22 centuries back, someone else wrote:
"The vengeful will suffer the LORD'S vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Should a man nourish anger against his fellows and expect healing from the LORD? Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his own sins?..." (Sirach 28: 1-4)The way I see it, sooner or later I'm going to have face time with God, and review my life. I'm counting on God's forgiveness. I don't think it would be very bright to refuse to forgive others. It just wouldn't look good.
I hope - and pray - that the Gillams will receive justice. And, that they will learn to forgive.
Aren't You Supposed to Simply Forgive and Forget?You want simple? Go to some 'First Church of Bubba.' The Catholic Church deals with the real world, and simple it isn't.
Well, actually, it is. There are, when it comes down to it, two important rules. We read about them in Mark 12:28-31. The rest, I've been told, is commentary on 'love God, love your neighbor.' But this post is pretty long already.
It's Easier to Give Advice than Take ItI've had to learn to forgive: and it isn't easy. Not at all easy. But, it's necessary, so I'm learning.
For example, I have forgiven the doctor who made me the subject, back in the fifties, of a medical experiment. Many of the physical problems I have had might not have happened, or been much less severe, if he hadn't decided to include me in his research. In that case, forgiving wasn't actually that hard, when I considered what my mother may have done to his mind.
I have forgiven the school bully, and others who have done me harm. Again, I have no practical choice. Not if I'm going to follow Catholic teachings.
- "Medical Ethics and Human Experimentation: Why I Take it Personally"
(February 3, 2009)
- "Letter shock for grieving parents"
Manchester Evening News (March 25, 2009)