Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Forgetting and Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a lot harder than we generally think. Usually, what we forgive, we could have just as easily forgotten. And forgetting in most cases is fine. If someone happens to apologize we can forgive, but we could have just as easily forgotten. But then there are the hurts that we cannot forgive. “I can never forgive …” Well, whatever we might mean by this statement, we are certainly saying that we cannot forget. Forgiveness of a hurtful action that can only be forgiven (rather than forgotten) is hard. And the reason is because real forgiveness is asymmetrical. ‘S/he’ has hurt me, and I am meant to just forgive them? Get real. ‘S/he’ can at least say sorry first, and ‘s/he’ could try to make amends, all of which will start to balance out the asymmetry. But even then, if we have been hurt terribly, maybe not. The asymmetry will most likely remain. We can’t forget; and it seems, we can’t forgive. There are a couple of things we can do at this point though. We can make sure we are remembering the incident correctly by not making it worse than it actually was (remembering rightly). We can also avoid imputing motivations for a wrong doing without hard evidence. It might also help if we ask ourselves questions like, “Have I ever done something similar?” or “Could I imagine doing something similar if my circumstances were different?” None of the above excuses the wrong, but we can cut the wrong back to its true proportion. The asymmetry will remain, but it might not be quite so great. Now comes the hard part. Forgive. This won’t mean forgetting (if we could forget we would have done so before). ‘S/he’ doesn’t deserve to be let off the hook, ‘s/he’ should be for ever sorry, for ever trying to make up for what ‘s/he/ did, shouldn’t ‘s/he’? And right at this point we see clearly the asymmetry and why real forgiveness is hard. Forgiveness is letting all that go without compensation. Like I said at the beginning, forgiveness is a lot harder than we generally think. But it is a lot more liberating than we think too.

1 comment:

  1. A quote from a book, The Christian mystery"
    The fourth virtue to be achieved is patient acceptance of whatever may come upon us. ALL CARES, all fear must be put aside, and we must be prepared to meet what comes, be it good or ill."

    Forgiveness is not necessary as there is nothing to forgive in the first place.