the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Name:
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.

4/10/2005

Easier to Forgive or be Forgiven?

WITTINGLY OR UNWITTINGLY, we have to see forgiveness in relation to justice, which is just as difficult to define as forgiveness?

Is it easier to forgive or be forgiven?

But first, my attempt to address (somewhat) some of the basic issues raised:

  • the validity of forgiveness lies in repentance.
  • Lewis Smedes' argument attempts "something that is too unnatural and demanding too much at one go from normal mortals"
  • forgiveness in relation to justice
  • forgiveness "foisted as an unconditional fast forward response in real life - even getting foisted upon criminals!"

The moral triumphs and failures of leaders carry a greater weight and volume than those of us, ordinary folk. The late Pope John Paul II - a spiritual leader whose influence will linger for generations - is widely perceived to embody and personify something utterly central to what Christianity is supposed to be. In his forgiveness of Mehmet Ali Agca, we see morality magnified. He is, you might say, a MODEL on forgiveness.



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John John Paul II forgave Agca even as he was rushed off to the hospital that day in 1981- long before their meeting two and a half years later. We do not know that Agca was impenitent when they met in his prison cell.

"what we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me...
I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned,
and who has my complete trust."


We see Muslims ask forgiveness of one another during Hari Raya. As well, in Judaism, forgiveness is seen as one of the principal attributes of God that people are expected to emulate. Certainly, Christians see forgiveness as the absolute core of the religion. And, doubtless, Buddhists, Hindus and people of other faiths also see forgiveness as a much valued virtue.

And from a non-religious viewpoint, what virtues mesh with the ethic of sympathy? Forgiveness would definitely be an important candidate.

In Judaism, for example, certain offenses are seen as not being forgivable. A severe offense like murder would certainly qualify. Relatedly, Judaism teaches forgiveness is somewhat dependent on repentance, that only the actual person who was offended has the right to forgive. On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Holiday - Jews traditionally go around asking people for forgiveness before the holiday, because Judaism teaches that God cannot forgive you for things that you did to other people, UNLESS they forgive you first. So forgiveness is not really free as such.

Which is not to say Christianity offers forgiveness mechanistically or without thinking.

Forgiveness is not something that can be granted lightly, as if the wrong done were of little consequence. Damage has been done, someone has suffered physical injury, or just as likely an injury to the soul . . . ingratitude, the rejection or betrayal of love, angry words that rankle in the mind. The person who is determined to forgive has to swallow a bitter pill. He has to remain steadfast in his love, even when it has been spurned.

Something too is demanded of the person forgiven. Forgiveness involves two parties; the forgiver and the forgiven. An acknowledgement of the wrong that has been done and a genuine repentance is required.

When one party has the grace to offer forgiveness, a great onus is laid on the other party to respond. For to accept forgiveness means to confess one's guilt or share of guilt and to repent. We have to humble ourselves to be forgiven.

Do we have to see forgiveness in relation to justice, which is just as difficult to define as forgiveness?

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6 Comments:

Blogger Eddie Beaver said...

What you say about justice being as difficult to achieve as forgiveness is quite true. Perhaps the justice we seek so much in life is often something we will not see until the afterlife/ next life (whatever one may believe). But forgiveness is what most affects us in the life we lead today, day after day.

You have a great blog, please keep posting!

5:44 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

eddie,

Glad you dropped by.

wits0 and lucis had a good discussion on this and the other entry "A Vicious Cycle".

Unfortunately, me big idiot goofed bigtime and lost all the previous comments.

Yup, I am also discovering that closure (acknowledgement from the offender)is crucial step in the process.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not natural or conducive to force yourself to forgive another
that readily as almost imposingly pushed by those single minded
ideological teachings of some Christian preachers.

This can cause internal conflicts and build up both self loathing
cowardice - and developing an ianappropriate penchant for passive non action when and where an appropriate action is required as the exigency of a given situation demands.

Even Lucia(I know) understand this ;). If someone attacks you or your love one you naturally defend yourself and them.

It is both foolish and selfish to fetter yourself into a certain
idiotic tendency in response to life just so as to presumably attain some freaky concept of heavenly grace afterwards.

An good analogy is the use of oxygen ; it's a live saver. But try hyperventilating and oxygen intoxication occurs. A good thing becomes a bad thing when inappropriately employed without discernment and astute WISDOM. Ditto dreamy and excessive focus on some inane indoctrination of religion out of context with reality by extension.

So if we regard forgiveness a s a viable and gainful psychological
concept for us here and now - and not for buillding up treasure in
heaven, so to speak, we should also regard 'action now' as very
naurally appropriate.

Dependent on the gravity and scale of the transgression committed,
will be the needed repentance displayed before some evil actions can be largely forgiven.

A case example is the current attempt by Japan to rewrite history to glorify their atrocities of war in WW2 and the anger it aroused in China presently. It's unjust for the Japanese government today to
sneak attempt to whitewash their extreme errors in the past. It is
simply unjust....and won't be forgiven...all the more. How indeed to forgive without atonement but on the contrary, deceit? Remember that other countries in SE Asia also suffered from the scourge of Bushido.

~wits0~

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See the connection between the blind thrust implicit in blind "Forgiveness", its ramification with the loony rant of the pro communist peackniks in the sixties, "Unilateral Disarmament!"

"Give unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's...." Heheh. Through blindless even Churchmen can exceed their scope of reference to "Forgiveness" and make the world distinctly more dangerous when they suck up to evil.

~wits0~

3:19 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

oh, wits0

Your passion and stamina is really amazing :)

I'll need to catch up with you later.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also trying to percolate through myth and standing truth; to peer through the limits of some interesting values(some of which we may have easily taken for granted)that require some profound reexamination, to see where the limits of their validity lay ;).

~wits0~

6:06 PM  

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