The keynote speaker for the 2006 SAYMA Yearly Meeting was Hector Black, from the Cookeville, TN Monthly Meeting. He spoke on the subject of peace - we had speakers the previous night talk about simplicity, integrity, community and equality. While there are many interesting and inspiring aspects of Hector's life, the most riveting is how he and his family dealt with the murder of Hector's daughter Trish in 2000. His first reaction, amidst all the pain, was that he wanted to kill the man who killed his daughter. But as the love of God worked to heal his broken heart, he overcame that desire.
The Victim Impact Statement from the trial contains a lot of the material he used in that section of his talk. After giving a little background about Trish and how devastated they all were by the murder, this is how Hector concluded his statement:
I know that love does not seek revenge. We do not want a life for a life. Love seeks healing, peace and wholeness. Hatred can never overcome hatred. Only love can overcome hatred and violence. Love is that light. It is that candle that cannot be extinguished by all the darkness and hatred in the world.
Judge Goger, that is the reason we are not asking for the death penalty.
I know that ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’ was not meant to be empty words. I don’t know if I have forgiven you, Ivan Christopher Simpson, for what you did. All I do know is that I don’t hate you, but I hate with all my soul what you did to Patricia..
My wish from my heart for all of us who were so terribly wounded by this murder, including you, Ivan Christopher Simpson, is that God would grant us peace.
For me, Hector's story had greater impact on me because he shared his initial reaction of "I'll kill the bastard!" Hector wasn't some perfect being who could just absorb an event like that and say "It's okay, I forgive you." He was a person who, through his anger and pain, allowed the love of God to work in his heart.