14 January 2009

Forgiveness

Sometimes I’m amazed by my capacity to forgive. Sometimes it seems like the bigger the wrong, the easier it is to forgive.

When it’s hard, however, it can seem impossible. It’s hard when they seem to be unrepentant.

3 comments:

jax said...

I suck at forgiveness. Oh, I can say the words, and smile, and pretend ok. I'm functionally forgiving, I guess. But actual forgiveness, as in the realization that the other person did me no harm? I can never let it go. I nurse grudges forever. Or more accurately, grudges feed like piranas on my defenseless living flesh forever. I hate it too, it makes me long for Alzheimers. Stupid brain.

Robert Fisher said...

I think forgiveness is about realizing that someone did do you harm, but... I dunno. Being able to separate the person from the act. It’s about accepting that others are just as imperfect as we are.

If they didn’t do you harm, there wouldn’t be anything to forgive. Although, I have been in situations in which that was hard to admit.

Besides the unrepentant bit, the other hard part for me is drawing the line between forgiveness and justice. The prodigal’s son was welcomed back and thrown a party, but he didn’t get a new inheritance to replace the one he’d squandered. Forgiving a debt doesn’t mean you extend the debtor additional credit. In many cases, though, that line is hard for me to see.

jax said...

I guess I was taking the final analysis, we're-all-in-the-womb, nothing-matters-but-your-character perspective. Or as the Stoic philosopher Epictitus put it, 'There are things that are within your control, and things that are not within your control. And if a thing is not within your control, you must be prepared to say that it means nothing to you.'

Sure, people can waste your money. They can waste your time. They can hinder your body, or worst of all, they can violate your expectations. But harm you? I mean the part of you that God thinks of as "You"? Untouchable.

I've come to think of enlightenment as the process of agreeing with God that that part is me, and that nothing else matters (I mean, beyond that part of me and other people). Ego, on the other hand, is the persistent stupid belief that other things do matter, like looks, or money, or comfort, or health, or what other egos think, or even justice. I mean, from God's perspective, earthly justice must look like me breaking your legs because your D&D character owes my character 100gp.

Agreeing with God on this point is the thing that I suck at.

However, your observation about accepting that other people are as imperfect as you are is spot on. And I mean, they are not only equally imperfect, they are imperfect in the same stupid ways. For example, like Janine Garafalo, I have always resented the idea that I had to lose weight to get a lover, because I resented the implication that I was so sucky that I had to be "improved" before I would become lovable. However, over the years I've had enough accidental flashes of the outside world penetrate my little cocoon of self-absorption to realize that you don't lose weight to "improve" yourself. You lose weight as a sop to the imperfections of others. They are just as ensnared in fantasy and ego as you are, so you have to throw them a bone. I think that's what the Tao means, when it says that the Enlightened Ones are "kindly as a grandmother".

And I think that true forgiveness is about extending more credit. Seventy times seven credit. Infinite credit. Because the things we lose by doing so are unreal, and the things we gain are ours forever. But then, I'm from the warm-fuzzy, hippy-dippy, judge-not, feed-my-little-sheep end of the Christian pool, rather than the whole fire-and-brimstone, evil-smiting side of the deal, so there is certainly spectrum available for a range of opinions here.

Is there some kinda blog rule that comments cannot be ten times longer that the original post? Because I think I may owe you 100gp.