"Never does the human soul appear so strong when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.” - Edwin Hubbell Chapina
In Part One of last month’s article, we discussed the lesson I learned from my father and also Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga, both of whom were wronged but did not respond in kind.
Now in Part Two, we pick up the story of my experience at the Guam Memorial Hospital.
Guam is a U.S. territory, where most federal laws also apply. Although under the U.S. jurisdiction, Guam is thousands of miles from the mainland so that some past governors of the territory had sometimes abused federal and local laws to advance their own interests ahead of the people they served.
In my time as the Guam hospital’s CEO, I learned that the governor and his administration had set up a decision-making process for many important hospital issues that was outside the purview of the CEO and the hospital board. Certain lieutenants of the governor at GMH would take hospital business to Adelup instead of the hospital's management and board.
As I worked with the Board Executive Committee to eliminate several non-compliant practices and return processes of the hospital to safe harbors, we unknowingly stepped into a hornet’s nest.
In October 2015, the governor at the time accused me of abusing the hospital’s credit card, which I thought would entail chasing me out of office. Much to my detractors’ chagrin, I was cleared of any wrongdoing by an independent investigation commissioned by the GMH board.
When the credit card debacle failed, the governor's office next strategy was to accuse me of sexual harassment. A lady at the hospital, who reported to one of the governor's lieutenants was coerced into filing a claim against me. The board chair and executive committee took the position that the EEOC should investigate the claim and if I was guilty, then of course, I should be held accountable. If not guilty, then I should be cleared.
The governor and his people were furious about this. Then in November, the governor demanded the board chair to get rid of me. When that didn't work, the governor on Dec. 9 demanded the board chair’s resignation. The rest of the executive committee resigned the next day. I refer to the events of Dec. 9 and 10 as the Guam Christmastime massacre.
Now the governor had a clear and direct path to get me out. I was asked more than once to sign a confession admitting to the harassment in exchange for the claim being withdrawn. No dice, I'm never going to admit to something I didn't do.
On Jan. 11, 2016 at 7:30 a.m., I woke up to devastating local headlines. The defaming details of the lady's complaint was on the front page of a local paper.
At 10 a.m., the governor’s office called and demanded my resignation. I said I would if I was paid out the rest of my contract to which I was entitled.
If that weren't enough, during the payout of my final checks, one of the governor's lieutenants deducted out of my payroll checks $19,674.43 without my permission. Multiple emails to Guam senators and the attorney general of Guam over the next two years to assist me in getting my stolen money returned did not bring one response.
Returning to the mainland, I began to develop anger and resentment. In my mind I was forming the ungodly trait of wanting to lash back at people for the way I had been treated. Fortunately, my father's advice and admonition would keep coming back to my mind.
In June of 2018, I decided to tell my story for the first time publicly to the Pacific Island Times.
As a result of telling my story, a gentleman I did not know, Troy Torres, came forward and told the story of how he, as the communications director for the governor, had orchestrated the PR campaign against me (June 8, 2018 Guam Post: "It Was an Entire Program").
In his interview Troy, publicly apologized for his part in this scheme to oust me from the hospital. His public apology was powerful and made it easy for me to forgive him. By forgiving him, I was blessed.
It was much more difficult, however, to forgive the others (whom I knew) who participated in this scheme to destroy me. By holding back on forgiveness for the others, I realized I was missing out on the forgiveness each of us needs from God who will graciously forgive our mistakes if we are willing to forgive those who trespass against us.
The peace and power that came over me, as I was finally able to completely forgive everyone involved in this scheme against me, was quite astonishing.
My father who taught me the principle of “Vengeance Is Mine says the Lord" was also a fan of the English Poet, Philip James Bailey, who says it best: "Those who forgive most shall be most forgiven.”
Theodore Lewis is former CEO of Guam Memorial Hospital and has a healthcare consulting business based out of Portland, Maine. He is collecting stories about lessons learned in life and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.