Roman Catholic priests in Mexico, which has been overwhelmed in recent years by drug violence, have sparked a debate on forgiveness with a video that urges victims to forgive murderers.
"My uncles and aunts told me .... that when I grow up, I have to do the same thing to your children," Miri, a young girl in the 10-minute short film, says to one of the men who killed her parents. But she decides to forgive him and says, "Maybe somebody did the same thing to your parents, or maybe they never hugged you."
The Associated Press noted that the video is stirring controversy in Mexico, which has suffered close to 70,000 drug-related killings in the past few years. The video, titled "Brother Narco," tells the story of how Miri loses her parents in the shooting. During her parents' funeral, one of the killers shows up to carry a funeral wreath for the dead couple, only to be confronted by the girl, who talks to him and gives him a hug.
Pauline Father Omar Sotelo, who wrote the short film, explained that his group is already planning another 12 short feature films made in high-definition video, which will be distributed on the Internet and on social networks, and address important social issues affecting Mexico.
The filmmaker admitted that such a scene of forgiveness might be hard to imagine in real life, but said that "as mystical and utopic as it may seem, this project comes out of real-life stories."
One of those stories that Sotelo came across concerned a woman who decided to forgive her son's killer. "She said 'I don't want to see anyone else's children killed. That is why I pardoned my son's killer'," the screenwriter recalled.
Not all are able to see the practicability of "Brother Narco's" message, however, with Isabel Miranda de Wallace, who has led a decade-long crusade to bring to justice the gang that kidnapped and killed her son, arguing: "I don't think people can forgive if they don't even know what happened to the victims, if justice hasn't been done."
Wallace noted that in many cases in Mexico, victims' bodies are dumped in unmarked locations, and the killers are never found, which makes forgiveness all that much harder for families. "There are a lot of people who cannot even mourn, because we haven't found the bodies of our relatives, " Wallace said. "So how are you going to go through the process of loss and reach forgiveness if you can't even get justice?"
Sotelo insisted, however, that as hard as it is to offer forgiveness sometimes, it is the only thing that can save Mexico from the trenches of gun and drug violence it has found itself in.
"By attacking the criminals with guns, what we have done is taken violence and produced more violence," Sotelo said. "What we have found is that these criminals have undergone a process of dehumanization," he continued. "What we need to do is to reverse that process of dehumanization. How you re-humanize someone, is, well, by treating them as what they are, a human being."
The video has already received a lot of discussion since it was posted on Youtube on Saturday. It has been viewed over 32,000, and has generated a lot of opposing opinions in the user comments section.