October 5, 2006

What Would Forgiveness Do?

Posted in culture, philosophy, psychology, theodicy, theology at 11:57 am by Jerry

Would forgiveness get to the root of the problem or would it merely scratch the surface?

Is forgiving someone an attempt to feel better about ourselves by recognizing the plight of others? Can forgiveness condone wrong behaviour? Does forgiveness excuse evil? Is forgiveness an act of repressing or covering hurt feelings? Is there a “Humpty Dumpty” version of forgiveness?

Personal Conclusions on What-Forgiveness-Would-Do-For-Me:

I want my forgiveness for those who hurt me, and what they did, earned. But I admit, I’m afraid of putting myself in the position of earning another’s forgiveness. Even if my potential forgivers do not act as if they own me, or ask me to do immoral tasks, I’m afraid they will require more from me than I think is necessary, knowing it ultimately isn’t up to me to set the standard for earning their forgiveness.

But I feel there is no better option. To me, forgiveness as a gift leaves the one person who wants forgiveness given or received, stranded. If the one I wronged refuses to forgive, then there’s simply nothing I can do to achieve forgiveness. Or if I am the one to create this gift of forgiveness without the wrongdoers, I’ll have no peace about the lack of peace in those who are aware they’ve wronged me. Whatever “peace” I’d feel in that position is not forgiveness, that’s revenge.

And for those completely unaware of how they hurt me, I want them aware of it. If I want justice, I deserve justice. But like I said in the first installment of this three-part series,

We’re not able to take a good look at the bad qualities of ourselves and others, all at once, in their entirety. (I haven’t met anyone who says they can.) We need small bites we can chew, and eventually, swallow.

Authentic forgiveness may require alot of time and effort to develop mutual empathy (perceived by both parties), but at least the forgiveness would be authentic. Those involved would be doing what any two people in a relationship should be doing — communicating.

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