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Forgiveness and Responsibility

No one expected Brandt Jean, younger brother of Botham Jean, to get out of his chair and enter the scarcely crossed space between the stand and defendant’s seat. When he did, it rocked the world.

I watched in awe, along with the rest of the nation, as Brandt embraced Amber Guyger, the woman convicted of murdering his 28-year-old brother. Defying every societal norm encouraging the condemnation of Guyger, Brandt chose forgiveness above everything else, making national headlines through his act of love. 

Brandt did not have to embrace the woman who murdered his only brother. He did not have to say the words, “I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.” He did not even have to get on the stand in the first place and address Guyger. 

But Brandt’s actions this week inspired millions of people all over the world to love and forgive those who hurt them. Each one of us can take a lesson from his example.

As I rewatched the video, once again on the verge of tears, I could not help but to admire the immense love, wisdom and Christ-like spirit of this teenager. Honestly, I have a difficult time comprehending what he did this week. 

I am still shaken and upset not only by the overarching situation but because Guyger received ten years for murdering an unarmed black man, especially considering the high number of people advocating for Guyger to undergo at least 28 years, the age of Botham. 

Before viewing this video, I was beyond frustrated with the justice system and the general population’s ignorance of the clear racial element of this case. Brandt softened my heart.

While I will continue to advocate for justice in this trial and the others which will inevitably occur, I feel less animosity and more love for Guyger. On the stand, Brandt admitted he did not want Guyger to go to prison, he just wanted her to follow Christ. 

At the end of the day, I realized my ultimate hope for anyone is for them to accept Christ, as his love supersedes all earthly injustices.

Even so, forgiveness does not diminish the event which transpired. Nothing can bring Botham back. He was murdered in his own home, which his mother, Allison Jean, noted he paid a lot of money for. 

By removing the racial element of this case, which I have noticed many Christians taking part in this past week, Botham’s death is not properly discussed between people who shared his faith. Through this notion, some deny the fact that this situation could have been avoided entirely with proper police training.

According to the New York Times, the Jean family said Botham was precautious in the city of Dallas to wear Ralph Lauren dress shirts and always drive the speed limit, sentiments most black people can attest to. Botham was aware of his blackness, and we do him a disservice not to recognize it.

In a statement after the trial, Botham’s mother reflected on the sentencing and the current state of the Dallas Police Department.

“That 10 years in prison is 10 years for her reflection and for her to change her life,” Allison said. “But there is much more to be done by the city of Dallas.”

While her words display compassion for Amber, she also advocates for change and justice, causes we should all care about.

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