I ask this question not because I do not know the dictionary definition or because I am unsure of how to reccognize remorse if and when I see it but because this morning I woke up to a debate on Q95 FM radio in Dominica.
Eric "Zey" Joseph has been released after 27 years of incarceration for the murder of Ted Honeychurch. Many persons called debating whether Mr. Joseph deserved to be set free and his tone during this radio/television interview. Many said that they felt that his demeanour wasnt that or remorse or someone seeking forgiveness but rather of joy.
While I didnt see the television interview, I heard the one played on the radio about three or four times within the space of an hour and I have come to this conclusion. Remorse isn't something that you can depict just from the words of people, it is something that should be observed over time. I understand that Mr. Joseph seemed happy about his release and was concentrated more on that point but who wouldn't have after a lifetime (my lifetime, i'm 28) behind bars. I would surely have been happy to be back with my family and friends if I were in his shoes.
I am not trying to justify the murder but to understand the call and need for remorse we must also understand the situations surrounding the action as well. One must also consider the situation at the time during which the crime was committed; there was great social unrest, the dread act, murders on both sides, some justified but most uncalled for, especially that of Mr. Honeychurch who by all accounts had been a friend to the "rastas" of that period.
From my teen years I have been witness to calls from the "new" rastafarian society to free Zey and the numerous calls go unheard by members of the Government and Mercy Committee. After several years and demonstrative rallies, the man who has always been told he would one day be free, now stands at the crossroads. While he looks back, he should also be allowed to grasp the opportunity at hand, the chance to set things right with the Lord, the Honeychurch family, his family and then the rest of Dominica.
As usual Dominicans don't give people the opportunity to do things at their own will and time but feel the need to serve as a pressure group for everything. From my understanding of the interview, Zey wasn't questionned along the lines of remorse or asked about the murder, however he did point out that he was sorry for his actions and hope that he can positively contribute towards society.
I personally feel that the statement in itself showed some level of remorse and I wonder if the callers/listeners of the Matt in the Morning Program expected some fancy words, tears and more as a show of remorse. Mr. Joseph is not an actor, hasn't been in a classroom for over 40 years and isn't a master of "big" words. That is in no way to belittle him, but to let people understand that everyone isn't equal (not even in the sight of the law, despite what is said) and that we all convey feelings and express ourselves differently.
I say it is time to forgive and forget (for those who can) and allow the man to continue his life. He will forever live with his actions and continually be looked at to pay a debt to society, even if he served his time already. Dominicans claim to be a forgiving people, but forgetful we are not and I can already hear the whispers coming from the crowd when he makes his presence in Roseau or if Mr. Joseph steps on someone's toe, God forbid.
Live and Let live please. Judge lest ye be judged, true and just judgement lies in the hand of the creator. I don't expect everyone to share my views or agree with it but they are still my views...