Archive for September, 2016
In my attempts to forgive, I try to respond with empathy and compassion to the one who hurt me. Is it possible to have such deep empathy and compassion that these qualities just abide in a person and are there, to be appropriated, any time and any place for any person and for any reason?
Yes, it is possible to carefully cultivate the qualities of empathy and compassion so that they are part of who you are as a person. I call it becoming “forgivingly fit.” It takes practice and then even more practice over years to develop such a deep, abiding sense of these qualities. As a motivation for you to so cultivate these, I have a chapter in the book, The Forgiving Life, in which I challenge the reader to leave a legacy of love in this world. To do so requires conscious effort and time so that you leave more love than anger in this challenging world when you die. If you have this legacy as a goal, it may be easier to stay at the task of practicing daily the qualities of empathy and compassion.
We now see forgiveness as a protection in at least five ways. As we forgive, we are protecting:
(A) our own emotional health;
(B) the human dignity of the offender, not because of what happened but in spite of it;
(C) our relationship if the other wants to reconcile;
(E) our communities from on-going anger that can pervade neighborhoods, separate people, and leave a blight that depresses economies.
After all, communities continually in contention do not receive tourist dollars, and governments often turn away, even if subtly, from such communities with high rates of violence. To forgive is to serve, to love, and to protect.
Enright, Robert D.; Fitzgibbons, Richard P. (2014-11-17). Forgiveness Therapy (Kindle Locations 5565-5567). American Psychological Association (APA). Kindle Edition.
Enright, Robert D.; Fitzgibbons, Richard P. (2014-11-17). Forgiveness Therapy (Kindle Locations 5562-5565). American Psychological Association (APA). Kindle Edition.
You talk of a “global perspective” when forgiving another person. What is the global perspective and can one still take that perspective when the other has done something horrible?
The global perspective challenges the offended person to see the genuine humanity in all people, including those who do horrible acts. For example, is this person mortal; will he or she die some day? If she is cut, will she bleed? Does he need air to breath and a little plot of land to stand on…..just as you do? It is hard to take such a perspective when calling someone “inhuman” or “a monster.” Yet, and some people will disagree with this, isn’t that a distortion of whom the offending person is? Are not those who act horribly still human beings? They do not become ducks or deer or chimpanzees. They remain…..human. The global perspective is one of the large challenges of forgiveness, to see the humanity in the other.
Even if a forgiver does not try to dominate the offender, the latter may nonetheless feel very badly about having to be forgiven (see Droll, 1985; O’Shaughnessy, 1967). Derek may feel that Alice, by her forgiving, is morally superior to him. Yet, Alice need not tell Derek of her gift. Even if he should suspect forgiveness on her part and then pine over this, Alice has done nothing wrong. Her gift remains a gift regardless of Derek’s response. If a child wails in protest over the gift of socks on Christmas morning, does this present then not count as a gift just because the child wanted a popular computer game and did not receive it?
Enright, Robert D.; Fitzgibbons, Richard P. (2014-11-17). Forgiveness Therapy (Kindle Locations 5080-5085). American Psychological Association (APA). Kindle Edition.
Forgiveness is toward people who have been unfair. Can a tornado be unfair? No, because a tornado has no intentions to do evil. One can work on acceptance of what happened, but it would be a distortion of forgiveness if you encouraged someone to forgive an inanimate object. A goal of forgiveness, not always possible, is to enter back into a loving or respectful relationship with that person. One cannot ever enter into a loving relationship with a tornado.