Forgiveness/Suffering (Was Re: DWJ in Israeli newspaper)

mecha godscylla mechagodscylla at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 17 13:30:20 EST 2004


I have been obsessing over this ever since I read the following:

Ven
>There is also an issue of forgiveness that to see
>people as flawed or incompetent makes it possible
>to forgive and to achieve reconciliation.

Melissa:
Another example of people glossing over the truth in order to stay safe.
Sometimes forgiveness is more painful than constant suffering.

And now, my random thoughts....

Of course, Melissa has since clarified her comments by further stating that 
she was thinking of situations where everyone knows there's a problem and 
they have tacitly agreed to step around the large elephant in the middle of 
the room and never mention it.    Yesterday, I had the impression that you 
(Melissa) were saying constant suffering can be a preferable alternative to 
forgiveness.  Now I see that you are saying people choose constant 
suffering, consciously or by default, by preferring it to awareness of the 
large elephant that is currently stepping on their foot and spraying water 
across the television.  Yes?

In that case I would only add -- it seems to me that while people might 
appear bullheaded, wayward, or wilfully blind when bent on ignoring what is 
obvious, it stands to reason that it's fear, being daunted, and feeling 
helpless (in addition to a whole bag of complicated stuff that may go with 
all that - guilt, shame, many things) that is leading to that extended 
effort of unawareness.  Seems to me that confronting and acknowledging the 
underlying fear/helplessness is the key first thing leading to admitting 
perhaps the elephant is blocking the fire exits.  Otherwise, even if the 
elephant is acknowledged, still no one has meanwhile discovered their inner 
mahout capable of getting a handle on the situation.

But I would argue that we aren't choosing between constant suffering and 
forgiveness. Those are two possible choices and may be two obvious choices 
in some situations, but there may be a lot of work to do clearing up the 
elephant ordure before any question of forgiveness comes up for review.

Ven's phrase "to forgive and to achieve reconciliation" jumped out at me. 
Personally, I never tie those two concepts together anymore, although I once 
did.  Forgiveness seemed very murky to me for a long time.  It seemed as if 
you were *giving* something to a transgressor and, moreover, it was 
something they were probably unlikely to want or need since, often enough, 
the transgressor isn't about to admit the transgression. lol!  Plus, that 
'to achieve reconciliation' bit.  What if you don't want to?  If you forgive 
someone, does this mean you have to hang out with them some more?

It seems to me that reconciliation is a separate process from forgiveness.  
Because reconciliation *must* be mutual or it is just the forgiver letting 
themselves in for another round, having received no evidence that 
circumstances have changed.  On the other hand,  forgiveness is essentially 
a solo act that is predicated on the individual's sense of personal agency - 
*you* have the power to forgive and the power to lay down the burden imposed 
upon you by the incident that requires forgiveness.  It seems to me a 
difficult solo act, but preferable to work at instead of passive constant 
suffering.

  And how annoying it is that transgressors are often so completely unaware 
of what they have imposed.  I am thinking of DWJ's biography now, and 
similar situations. If the parent is so oblivious and uncaring in the first 
place - will it matter to them if their child is prostrate under the burden 
of being transgressed against? Will they notice that suffering and impact, 
ever? No. And they wouldn't want to, would they (see above)?  But by the 
same token, will forgiveness have any meaning to them? No, I doubt that, 
since they haven't admitted any of it to consciousness in the first place. 
So it's all one to them whatever happens to whoever they have burdened.  So 
that is why working toward forgiveness is an act of the individual, on 
behalf of and for the health and well-being and future of that individual, 
and not for the transgressor, who it probably wouldn't mean anything to, 
anyway.  And I say 'working toward forgiveness' because I don't think it can 
be hurried along or done by fiat. It just has to take the time it takes, 
however long, but meanwhile the person is growing and growing.

That's why I am not in favor of the phrase 'forgive and forget.'  I'm more 
for 'forgive and remember.' I don't mean to remember in the sense of a 
grudge, but as something that has been thoroughly exploited for all learning 
potential.  Forgive the stove, but also remember not to put your hand on the 
burner. Consider a raw foods diet if the sight of the stove offends you.  
Banish the stove and use only a microwave. None of that means you haven't 
forgiven the stove, but you don't have to reconcile with it either.  ;)

Well, my random maunderings.  Thanks Ven and Melissa for sparking my mind!

Elise

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