Archive for December, 2016
Children seem to get angry easily and then to get over it just as easily. Since they do get over things so quickly, how do we as parents know when to step in and talk about forgiving and receiving forgiveness between, say, a brother and sister?
The key, I think, is the depth of anger because of a deeper injustice than is typical. If you sense that a child has been injured (and this can be emotional pain or physical pain), then it may be best to step in. Be sure to allow a time of anger in the one injured. In other words, you do not want to create a norm that to forgive is to not allow an expression of anger at all.
They are all hard to accomplish, said one.
They are all impossible if we are realistic about the human endeavor, said another.
They are all cruel ideals to make each of us feel inferior, said the third.
And yet, I wonder. Surely, one can forgive those who offend. Some can run the marathon. I know someone who finished the Boston Marathon nine years in a row. And contemplating great art is feasible as long as we let the beauty speak to us rather than our trying to define it and therefore reduce it.
Forgiveness, running the marathon, and contemplating great art all stretch us, ask us to see farther down the road, challenge us to grow beyond our current self.
They all awaken in us the call to greatness. They all challenge us to see that life is more than going to work, collecting a paycheck, and kicking back on the weekend, only to repeat the cycle seemingly endlessly until we retire.
Forgiveness is a heroic virtue because it asks us to so stretch ourselves that we are good to those who are not good to us. The marathon shows us that we can go beyond our expected capacity, that we have a reserve that can be discovered by the strong will. The contemplation of inspired works of art challenges us to see that there is more to this world than we can see and hear and taste and touch in our ordinary surroundings. There is a greatness awaiting us, if only we have the courage to look.
We all can begin by forgiving a loved one for a minor injustice. We all can start to walk and then run and lift that weight even if it does not translate into over 26 miles of challenge. We all can create and contemplate what others around us create even if none of these will see its way to a Florentine gallery. And we can keep raising the bar on whom to forgive, what exercises challenge us, and what magnificent art really is.
We all can start stretching ourselves today. Forgiveness, the marathon, and inspired great art are all calls to us to move forward, to be better than we are today, to reach and then achieve.
Do forgiveness and reconciliation have to be in person or would accepting an apology by phone, email, or twitter also be acceptable?
If you choose to forgive but cannot reconcile (because the other remains dangerous), then you can offer forgiveness without even saying directly to the other, “I forgive you.” You can give to a charity in the other’s name, for example. You also can accept an apology by phone if you cannot trust the other at the moment. The apology may make the face-to-face meeting in the future more possible.
If you choose to forgive and to reconcile, and if you have a measure of trust, then it is better to forgive and to apologize in person because you want to re-start the dialogue and establish trust. The process certainly can start by phone or email or some other social media, but ultimately, if you truly want a relationship with the other, then the best way is to do that is in person.