We learned more this week about the makeup of Sen. Bart Davis than decades of legislative sessions may have ever informed about his character and capacity to forgive.
Davis, R-Idaho Falls, and wife, Marion, lost their son, Cameron Wade Davis, as the result of a shooting at an off-campus keg party near Boise State University in March 2003. The shooter, fellow BSU student Vincent Craig Olsen, son of a Boise surgeon, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2003 with the possibility of parole in 10 years.
That "possibility" is now likely a probability because, among other considerations, the Davises did not make any attempt to stop the release of Olsen at a parole hearing last April.
In an Associated Press article written by John Miller and published Monday in the Idaho Statesman, Bart Davis made it clear that over the years he and his wife have developed empathy for the jailed Olsen's parents, Craig and Lenna Olsen. Besides their link to the tragic crime and its aftermath, the Olsens, like the Davises, lost a son, Eric, as a result of an accident involving a homemade explosive device in 1999.
"We saw their hearts ache," Davis wrote of the Olsens in a statement to AP. "With time, we prayed for them. With a little more time, we prayed for their son. Our loss is real, but now there is comfort."
We are in awe of the courage and strength exhibited by the Davis family to see and take the path of forgiveness, knowing full well that while their son is gone, the man who took his life could be free any day. Vincent Olsen, now 32, would be released to his parents in Boise.
The Olsens understand the gift of forgiveness the Davis family has given freely in this matter. In the Olsens' statement to the AP, they said: "Only people with their generosity of spirit could absorb all that and still be willing to offer a healing hand to our family."
There is much to learn and take to heart in this episode about tragedy, family and forgiveness.
If we dig in and camp out behind a wall of bitterness, we will never know the reward of "comfort" on the other side.
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