“I proceeded to release almost 3 decades of anger, resentment, and pain on him and he never looked once looked away from me as I told him how his actions on December 8, 1984 changed my life forever…After I was finished telling him about all the years of pain and agony he had caused, I sat down and heard a voice. The voice told me, ‘That’s it, let it go.’ The next thing that came out of my mouth changed my life forever. I looked at him, told him I couldn’t keep hating him because I was doing nothing but killing me instead of him, and then I said, ‘I forgive you.’”
Cynthia Vaughn, November 10, 2018.
So many of you have joined with us, because of Cynthia Vaughn. Her plea for mercy for the man who took away her mother—Connie Johnson—is singularly powerful. As so many of you have observed, ‘if she can forgive him, why can’t we?’
As Cynthia has explained, through forgiveness, she has found peace. After her first meeting with Don on Death Row, she heard the birds chirping, so loudly, and for the first time. Forgiveness has allowed her to be present for her children, to laugh and to feel joy. Forgiveness is healing.
Through forgiveness, Cynthia has discovered her mother. The woman who was stolen from her all those years ago, and then kept hidden, has finally been revealed. Forgiveness is redemptive.
By Cynthia’s example, so many of us are made better. When we face our own malice, when we grieve at injustices committed against us, we can look to her for a better way. When we doubt our ability to forgive those who trespass against us, we look at Cynthia and take strength. We can also learn from Don. His willingness to unflinchingly accept blame—to look Cynthia in the eye when she unleashed three decades of grief—is a lesson in repentance.
Cynthia Vaughn’s forgiveness of Don Johnson should be respected.
Hear Cynthia’s story in her own words here.