Forgiveness as a Balancing Act
Inez: I’m finally beginning to understand the answer to my question, “What, exactly, do we do when we forgive?” But now I am worried. Can a person forgive too much?
Sophia: Aristotle talked about the balance of the virtues. Each virtue can be distorted in two ways, on either end of a continuum. In the case of forgiveness, if we practice forgiveness as a way of caving in to another’s request (by failing to see the injustice and acting without courage), our forgiving will look like “too much,” but it is not forgiving in any genuine sense.
Inez: I know why— because caving in is not a sign of goodness at all. The extreme expression of forgiveness as caving in distorts its essence.
Sophia: Yes, and the other extreme is to use forgiveness as a weapon against the other as you constantly remind her that she has needed your “virtuous” forgiveness.
Inez: In this case, rather than my being dominated, I dominate. That, too, is not morally good, and so I am not really forgiving.