*

On a starry night over 2000 years ago a sacred event took place that infinitely changed humankind.

21 April 2011

An Analysis Of Forgiveness: Can It Be Done?

 

I viewed the PBS program on forgiveness this past Sunday and I must say that it touched on a subject that I've wrestled with for many years.  What is "FORGIVENESS"? There is a trailer above submitted for your viewing...for those who hadn't the opportunity to see the program.  Religious leaders and followers have a concept of it that  in my humble opinion, requires that the victim take on the enormous burden of  letting go of  the transgression and embracing the offender with love and charity.  There are others who say that you forgive so that you can move on and it doesn't mean that you again become a part of the toxic element that caused the trauma.  It just relieves the psychic trauma that permeates all aspects of their life and continually challenges their humanity when interacting with other members of society.


The vignettes presented of some of these devastating events were powerful and many of them are well known to the public. The analysis of subsequent issues that make it difficult to forgive, i.e., hate, anger and vengeance had a different relevancy to each circumstance.

For example, the former South African Apartheid official who had tortured and killed many of the native born Africans was showcased.  He had indicated a change of heart which he attributed to a religious conversion and went to the home of one of his victims to ask for forgiveness many years later.  What is also so egregious about this man is that he continued to harass the family knowing that he had killed their son.  There was one family member who could not tolerate the fact that he had for some-- the gall and for others-- the spirit of atonement to enter their home.  The result was an attack on this man.  What I remember the most were the eyes of the former apartheid enforcer as blood dripped down his face.  It was a startled look to be sure and one of actually realizing what he had done without the comfort he had probably gotten used to by others who encouraged this move. Remember those Truth and Reconciliation hearings?  There are those who will be especially hard on the family member for the act and those who will feel sorry for the one who atoned and was harmed as a result of his actions.  

The Amish tragedy was another example of the power of forgiveness subsequent to an unspeakable murderous act towards the children of their community.  Ten of them were shot and 5 died along with the gunman.  The Amish religious tenets were examined and their behavior towards the family of the gunman as an example of how they not only taught the concept of forgiveness but their behavior reflects how deeply they believe in it.  I couldn't quite forget the ending when they were bulldozing the school house where the killings took place and one child had indicated that they may remove the school but the memory would remain.  The narrator cited that he was told by another child to be quiet for they must forgive and forget. (my interpretation)


It would be interesting to hear how others feel about this.  I would appreciate your comments.   In fact, my compassion though limited and ambivalent was for the former apartheid enforcer but more so for the family member who retaliated.   I felt his trauma and pain as well.  I could not muster any forgiveness for the gunman who attacked the Amish children as he chose not to answer to anyone at least in this reality.  Many would argue that it doesn't matter whether or not society forgives him.  It only matters for the Amish community and they chose to do so.   For the believers the final judgment has been sealed for him.


The question for me-- in most of these circumstances was how does one behave or feel when evil morphs into an act of atonement.  Do we trust it?  Hmmm.....  


Links:

 Forgiveness: UnityOf Spirit
Forgiveness: Mayo Clinic


5 comments:

Desertflower said...

Very interesting topic.
My thoughts are that forgiveness depends on the wrong and the amount of damage done. Some acts are so destructive and so life changing in such a negative way that forgiving may be difficult and forgetting impossible.
If the offense can and is rectified, then it's easy to forgive, otherwise, not so sure....

Desertflower said...

Upon giving it some thought, I think that if the perpetrator of the offense can make it up to you somehow, relative to the harm that was done, so that the memory or suffering would be ameliorated, then it would be easier to forgive. I guess I'm a big believer in retribution. :)

Carolyn Moon said...

@Desertflower: There are many of us who feel that way. Others say that forgiveness and reconciliation or atonement are two different things which is true, however, they are related. And for some of us, forgiveness is a difficult process if there appears to be no regret or sincere efforts to make amends for the act. Again, for me it depends on how egregious the act was. If you said something to embarrass me in front of others--maybe I could overlook it if I could be assured that it wouldn't happen again. However, on this program some of those situations they aired would take an act of God to assist in forgiving those offenders. I'm just saying!! Thanks for your input...

Desertflower said...

Exactly! As you state, "if there appears to be no regret or sincere efforts to make amends for the act." That's exactly how I feel also.

As you may see I have a couple of deeply personal issues with this very topic. And it saddens(and, I won't lie, angers me at times)in as much as I haven't seen any regret or sincere effort to make amends, but instead a total negation of the act itself,and this by a family member who professes to "love me "profoundly". But, as they say, ce la vie! One (meaning me lol!) must deal with it as best one can and continue on. I dare say I have forgiven, and I love this person and that cannot be erased, although it makes it more painful.

However,I have seen, although it's no consolation to me, that these type people continue on in their erroneous conduct and have many issues/problems as a result, but that as they say, is no money in my pocket and doesn't help me! Oh well, feels better to talk about it. Thanks! Thanks for posting this very relevant and important topic! Good to rethink/rehash/vent things sometimes!;)

Carolyn Moon said...

I see you have one of those in your past as well. I still struggle but you are on point re:

"Good to rethink/rehash/vent things sometimes!;)"

Take care.....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...