The Moderate Voice believes that some of those 'haters' of Bill Ayers just will never be satisfied. Somehow there is this concept that Bill Ayers' Op-Ed at the NYT offers evidence of his repentance. Unfortunately repentance requires a bit more than saying you were wrong or sorry about one's misdeeds. That is the very modern idea of blowing people up and saying you are sorry... that doesn't really go anywhere, now, does it?
Since some folks like those at The Moderate Voice don't seem to get past the modern idea of repentance, they probably need just a bit of a clue on the older, and more thorough form that most of us, out here in the actual physical world require. Let's try this on from the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913):
There it is - to be repentant one must be penitent, must express sorrow for what one has done, and show contrition. But that isn't the end of repentance, now, is it? It requires a bit more than just those things, particularly when going beyond a sin against god, but the destruction of one's fellow man.
Repentance \Re*pent"ance\ (r[-e]*p[e^]nt"ans), n. [F. repentance.] The act of repenting, or the state of being penitent; sorrow for what one has done or omitted to do; especially, contrition for sin. --Chaucer.
Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. --2. Cor. vii. 20.
Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God. --Hammond.
Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice from the conviction that it has offended God. Sorrow, fear, and anxiety are properly not parts, but adjuncts, of repentance; yet they are too closely connected with it to be easily separated. --Rambler.
Syn: Contrition; regret; penitence; contriteness; compunction. See Contrition.
Bill Ayers, himself, has said 'guilty as sin, free as a bird' about what he and others had done, so perhaps this bit from the Devil's Dictionary (1911) is what he is getting at:
REPENTANCE, n. The faithful attendant and follower of Punishment. It is usually manifest in a degree of reformation that is not inconsistent with continuity of sin.
Desirous to avoid the pains of Hell,
You will repent and join the Church, Parnell?
How needless! -- Nick will keep you off the coals
And add you to the woes of other souls.
Hmmmm... nope, no punishment has been levied upon Bill Ayers. And I don't see him running to any church to absolve him of his sins as Bill Ayers recognizes no higher authority than himself to sit in judgment of his works. So that gets scratched.
Thus we go 'old school' on repentance, to get the feel for what it consists of so as to demonstrate it. For this we go to Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary to see just what repentance is all about:
There are three Greek words used in the New Testament to denote repentance. (1.) The verb _metamelomai_ is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Matt. 27:3).
(2.) Metanoeo, meaning to change one's mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with (3) the cognate noun _metanoia_, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised.
Evangelical repentance consists of (1) a true sense of one's own guilt and sinfulness; (2) an apprehension of God's mercy in Christ; (3) an actual hatred of sin (Ps. 119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning from it to God; and (4) a persistent endeavour after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments.
The true penitent is conscious of guilt (Ps. 51:4, 9), of pollution (51:5, 7, 10), and of helplessness (51:11; 109:21,22). Thus he apprehends himself to be just what God has always seen him to be and declares him to be. But repentance comprehends not only such a sense of sin, but also an apprehension of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Ps. 51:1; 130:4).
My thanks to die.net for collecting these!
You see, our modern version is the change of mind one, although a change of heart is not necessary. Note that it is used in reference to Judas, that he may repent of the sin but it is only the action not the intent of it that he repents of. That describes Bill Ayers.
He has not undergone a full change of mind and purpose, so as to demonstrate his knowledge of what he has done as truly evil, and to cast it from himself. Bill Ayers has not done that and so his actual understanding of what it means to repent is in doubt. Further he does not go on to cast that sin from himself forevermore, so as to promise to never betray his fellow man like that again. He has undergone no change in heart. Nor does Bill Ayers cast himself before us to seek mercy and forgiveness... quite the contrary with 'guilty as sin, free as a bird'.
These later acts describe 'contrition' in those actions and seeking to make amends for them, even though he can never fully do so as he has escaped secular justice and seems unaware of any other form of it. His conscience does not come forward to cause him sorrow and contrition in his actions nor to foreswear them. He, instead, seeks excuses and to say that there were reasons to do the unreasonable.
For Bill Ayers to be repentant he must seek atonement for his crimes. As Joseph Campbell points out, that word breaks out into its own form to tell what one must do: atonement - At Onement.
Contrition can only be done and shown to those surviving families of those he has helped to kill and injure and make amends. He places himself at the mercy of their judgment and seeks no excuses for what he has done as he would recognize that they were unreasonable acts against his fellow man and civil society. He would accept their judgment, no matter how cruel, as JUST and RIGHT for they are the ones he has directly wronged and he would never seek the excuse of never, personally killing individuals as the group he fostered trained in Cuba to kill and kill they did.
That is repentance.
Far more than saying 'I'm sorry'.
It is understanding that you have done wrong and recognizing it.
In that recognition you cast that from yourself and foreswear to ever do those things again.
You then change your purpose in life to repair the damage you have done.
You show contrition for your actions.
And you seek to put yourself at the mercy of those you have wronged for their judgment so as to atone for those acts and balance the scales of your life for those who you have harmed are have caused harm to be brought to them.
Bill Ayers has not done these latter things.
He only repents as Judas did.
And that fits.