Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Forgiveness

Has anyone else noticed a recent spate of "forgiveness" permeating the world's media? It seems no dreadful event can happen these days without someone standing up and saying that they forgive the perpetrator for the wrong he's done them.

...And that's good, isn't it? Forgiving people makes us kind, decent human beings doesn't it? ...Or does it?
Forgiveness is a curious thing. It's one of that set of words like "love" and "want" that are easy to say but very hard to genuinely feel. I for one am convinced that it would be a struggle for me to even come close to forgiving anyone who did something which badly effected someone I love.
Certain people who've treated Nathan badly in the past, for example, would still feel my wrath if they came too close. I still have a fantasy about stuffing one particular pair of melting waxy faces into a passing trifle, but maybe that's just my Leo energy surfacing; as fiercely protective as I am vengeful!

Perhaps because of my own rather extreme and psychologically flawed views on the subject, I struggle to believe that people actually mean it when they bandy the word forgiveness about. In fact, I find the use of the word self-righteous in the extreme, to the extent that I often lose sympathy for the person who uses it. Sometimes I think people "forgive" simply so that the world thinks they're a better person, or worse, a better Christian, because, as the centre stone of Christianity, forgiveness is something that we're told we're meant to feel.

Forgiveness should have no caveats. You have not genuinely forgiven someone to whom you say "I forgive you but only God can decide your punishment." (That's a threat...) Neither have you forgiven someone to whom you say "I forgive you, but I will never trust you again." (That's a promise!)

In my view, forgiveness can only be achieved when aided by time (and plenty of it when the crime you're forgiving is a serious one.) Anyone who tries to make us believe that they can forgive their husband's murder within a week is either deluded, disingenuous or, quite frankly, a touch callous. In order to forgive, first you must understand, and then you have to empathise... And this takes a long time...

True forgiveness can happen of course; it's noble and remarkable and it ought to be something we strive for. We can all learn from the parents of Amy Biehl, for example, who set up a foundation to assist young people in South African townships after their daughter was murdered by a gang of black men shouting racist remarks. Two of her murderers (who were released as part of the Truth and Reconciliation commission) now work for the foundation, which is doing fabulous things.

So those are my thoughts on forgiveness. What are yours?

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