Michael and Desiree Davis had every right to be angry and unforgiving over the loss of their 17-year-old daughter Claire Davis who was shot Dec. 13 at Arapahoe High School.
But in a stirring memorial on New Year’s Day, the Davises showed uncompromising grace that should stand as a lesson for us all.
The Davises publicly forgave their daughter’s killer, 18-year-old Karl Pierson, who shot himself after storming into the school for unknown reasons.
Claire’s final words before the fatal shot were, "Oh, my gosh, Karl, what are you doing?" The Davises urged mourners to follow Claire’s thinking, to stop in times of strife and ask, "Gosh, what am I doing?" "Unchecked anger and rage can lead to hatred, and unchecked hatred can lead to tragedy," Michael Davis said.
The message is not to hate but to understand and be compassionate.
Nor is the lesson to avoid saying Pierson’s name, as Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has vowed to do. Pierson was "someone who victimized an innocent young lady by an act of evil and in my opinion deserves no notoriety and certainly no celebrity," Robinson said. "He deserves no recognition." Of course Pierson committed an evil act and deserves no celebrity status.
But we can’t simply stop the analysis there.
We may never know all of the factors behind Pierson’s rampage, but it’s important to try to ferret them out. By scrubbing Pierson’s name and chalking up his actions to evil alone risks missing important lessons that could be useful in stopping another assault.
The sheriff’s office and Littleton School District have not revealed much about what they have learned about Pierson’s threatening behavior in the months before.
The public needs that understanding.
We also need to recognize and follow the true grace shown by the Davises in their moment of deep sorrow.
~The Denver Post