Forgiveness in action has led Danny Abdallah to be one of ten Australians to be invited to attend the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The Australian Prime Minister spoke to the shocked Danny, telling him he was invited to join the group going to London. Danny will have the privilege of joining the millions who mourn around the world, as they pay tribute to one of Britain’s greatest Queens.
Yet, this forgiveness began with the courage of his wife.
Two years ago, three of Danny and Leila Abdallah’s children were killed in a tragic and unimaginable accident, when a 29-year-old drunk and drugged driver drove into a group of seven children at 137 km/h. The children were on their way to purchase ice cream. The professional truck driver had been driving erratically as well as speeding, when he mounted the curb and plowed into the group of children.
Four of the children, aged 8, 11, 12 and 13, died instantly, which included a young cousin. Three other children were injured, one boy suffering permanent brain damage.
Leila Abdallah, showed unbelievable courage when she proclaimed on national television, just two days after the accident, that she forgave the driver who had mown the children down. Leila’s act of forgiveness took courage that is beyond belief, as she joined countless other women who have lost their children in tragic circumstances.
Danny Abdallah spoke at the trial and blamed the culture that says consuming excessive drugs and alcohol was ‘cool’. Yet, a professional driver knows the damage a speeding vehicle can inflict, let alone the deadly combination of drink and drugs.
Forgiveness in Action Takes Enormous Strength
For any woman to have that kind of strength to forgive in those circumstances is beyond comprehension. There aren’t too many people who have the ability to show such a largesse of heart.
As Danny Abdallah says, “The pain and suffering remain, but forming the i4Give Day foundation was a way to get the family to a higher ground.” In March 2022, Leila, aged 37, gave birth to their seventh child, a beautiful baby girl. However, nothing can replace the emptiness of the three children that were lost. The Abdallah’s have proved that you can go on stronger than before, cherishing the memories of those loved ones and seeing forgiveness in action.
Through prison and school programs The i4 Give Foundation has helped countless numbers of people. The foundation promotes deep forgiveness in the context of love, faith, family, and community. The Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths now all have an i4Give Day, as the Australian government recognizes an official i4Give Day.
Forgiveness in action does not excuse the harm done or creates forgetfulness. Hopefully, it leads to understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who did the hurting.
Another Act of Forgiveness in Action
Forgiveness takes a conscious act by the forgiver. A woman who was driving a second car, saw the car her was husband driving go off the side of a bridge and topple upside down into deep water. His stepdaughter, who was only one week off her 18th birthday, was instantly killed.
When the woman is asked how she coped, she answers simply, “With the grace of God I learned to walk on”. There is power and freedom in forgiveness. “There, but for the grace of God go I.”
When something bad happens in your life, you have two choices. You either forgive or allow bitterness to take hold. Bitterness is like an insidious and invasive plant, which too many people have cultivated. The longer bitterness is left to grow, the deeper its roots go, until it strangles everything else around it. While forgiveness is a bitter pill to swallow, bitterness is a strangler that reduces life to an unbearable level. The wise woman gives bitterness the treatment it deserves.
Forgiveness has three faces: exoneration, forbearance and release. Leila offered forgiveness for that drunk driver, and released herself from the ‘rabbit hole’ of bitterness, anger, and an emotional prison of depression, anxiety, and hostility. These bars would have been stronger than any prison bars that keep the guilty party locked up.
Forgiveness in Action is the Route to Healing
Leila may have found compassion in her heart for the driver, who not only suffers the criminal implications, but he lives knowing that he cut off five young lives. The drunk driver was sentenced in April 2021 for 28 years, with a non-parole period of 21 years.
Forgiveness is the only route to healing, health, and some semblance of peace. The door of grief can be reopened in the blink of an eye, by a certain sound, smell, or another death, but this is a healing type of grief. Forgiveness makes you a stronger person. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” As women, we need to take this advice on board or we end up like Olivia de Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine. Two brilliant actresses, but sister who were never reconciled. The choice is always ours.