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Check Out: Peter Katz - "Forgiveness" (Song)

There is rarely a day that I don't have a passing thought about this song and the story behind it. (Warning: Story contains reference to war and murder).

In 2004 Nicolas Berg was working as a radio tower repair contractor in Iraq when he was brutally murdered purportedly at the very hands of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The murder was video taped and released on the internet as part of inspiring the growing insurgency to US forces in Iraq. In 2006, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was himself killed in a US targeted airstrike. At the time of his son's death, and again at the time of al-Zarqawi's death, Michael Berg was outspoken in media as being anti-war and angered at killings done in his son's name. There was much backlash against such statements and accusations made of politicizing his own son's death, (Berg did make a run for Congress), however there seems a genuine conviction in Michael Berg's words and actions that could not be ignored and which spark curiosity that such a response as "forgiveness" would be so immediate, let alone in the repertoire of a grieving father.

One person who acted on this curiosity was Canadian musician Peter Katz who came to know Michael Berg and through that relationship produced the song "Forgiveness". I first heard the song as part of an interview between Carole Off, Michael Berg and Peter Katz on CBC's As It Happens in 2018. I was so struck by the interview, the song and the emotions it evoked that it has stayed very present with me. It keeps my curiosity about humanity well stoked as I wrestle through what kind of person I am and could possibly be.

I don't know if I could be, or even at times want to be, the type of person Katz sings about. But I do know that I have to account for the possibility of being the person Katz portrays, including the courage and potential emotional change that entails. It is that unresolved curiosity and tension it raises in me, as well as the sheer beauty of the lyrics and music, that keep this song in my thoughts.


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