Monday, April 11, 2011
Is forgiveness divine?
I am contemplating the nature of forgiveness. What is true forgiveness? Is it when you say it? Or is it when you feel it? When someone causes you pain and/or changes your whole life, especially if that someone betrays a trust, do you ever stop feeling the pain? Certainly, forgiveness is not forgetting. Somethings you never forget. Is it loving yourself enough to love the pain-giver?
Consider Thoreau's Walden - "There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with a conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life ... No, in this case, I would rather suffer evil the natural way. A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much. Philanthropy is not love for one's fellow-man in the broadest sense ... I never heard of a philanthropic meeting in which it was sincerely proposed to do any good to me, or the likes of me.
The Jesuits were quite balked by those Indians who, being burned at the stake, suggested new modes of torture to their tormentors. Being superior to physical suffering, it sometimes chanced that they were superior to any consolation which the missionaries could offer, and the law to do as you would be done by fell with less persuasiveness on the ears of those who, for their part, did not care how they were done by, who loved their enemies after a new fashion, and came very near freely forgiving them all they did.
Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them..." To some forgiveness (or even the awareness they done something that needs forgiving) is a alien as it was to these indians. Is forgiveness hypocritical if you benevolently forgive without meaning it? Perhaps when I see the persons as much a victim of their nature as I am, perhaps then I can pity them. But can I go the additional step and love them. Or at least love the lovable parts of them? They can't truly be all bad.
I accept that the pain inflicted on me is now a part of me but I refuse to accept that it defines me. I will not give anyone that kind of power over me. I reclaim me.