Analysis: When Kindness Defeats Pain and Tragedy

“To err is human, to forgive divine.”

marion hedges 2
NBC New York

Compassion is a trait celebrated by poets and scripture. And sometimes, in our society,  compassion seems to be in short supply. Not in the case of Marion Hedges.

This remarkable woman proves that even those who suffer great pain and injustice can rise above it.

A real estate broker and a volunteer for the New York Junior League, Hedges worked to promote better conditions for underprivileged youngsters.  She was seriously injured on Oct. 30 when two 12-year-olds pushed a shopping cart from a fourth-floor walkway of a shopping mall in Harlem. The cart hit her, 50 feet below, and she suffered head trauma and broken ribs and was blinded in her left eye. She was at the mall that day to buy Halloween candy for the children she works with.

For weeks, she was in a coma. And she’s far from recovered. Speaking out publicly for the first time since the incident, Ms. Hedges told NBC 4 New York's Pei-Sze Cheng: "I'm only focusing on recovery and focusing helping other young boys that need help."

Of the boys who injured her, Hedges said: “I wish them well. I do."

The two 12-year-olds who hit her have pleaded guilty and were sentenced to six months in group homes. According to the Daily News, One of the two, wrote Hedges a note reading: “I’m sorry for what I did. I’m also sorry to your family. I did not mean to hurt you. My actions were stupid."  Hedges said she has never heard from the boys.

This incident recalls another tragedy the case of Dharun Ravi , who last week was convicted of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation after spying on his roommate's sexual encounter with another man. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide shortly after the incident.

After Ravi’s conviction, Tyler’s father, Joe, wrote a statement for the Clementi family that speaks to all young people.

“To our college, high school and even middle-school youngsters, I would say this: 'You’re going to meet a lot of people in your lifetime. Some of these people you may not like. But just because you don’t like them, does not mean you have to work against them. When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell them, That’s not right. Stop it. You can make the world a better place. The change you want to see in the world begins with you.’ ”

Alexander Pope, the English poet, wrote: “To err is human, to forgive divine.” That people who suffer so much are capable of such great compassion is a wonder. Perhaps it shows that the divine is very much a part of us -- if the divine evokes feelings of tenderness, kindness and empathy.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” the boy said.

“You can make the world a better place,” the bereaved father said.

Of such sentiments is forgiveness made.

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