Archive for November, 2020
There is a difference between what forgiveness is (it is being good to those who are not good to you) and your motivation to forgive. There is nothing wrong with being good to another person so that you can emotionally heal. Here is a link to one of my essays at the Psychology Today website that gives you more information on this: 9 Purposes for Your Life When You Forgive.
“My father abandoned our family when I was 6 years old. I am now grown, in college, and he has come around now that the pressure is off. He wants to establish a relationship with me, but I do not even know him. Does it seem kind of phony to now go ahead with this?”
It is never too late to forgive. You see your father’s mistakes. I think that he sees them, too. You surely have a right to your anger. At the same time, you could give your father a huge gift of mercy and aid your own emotional healing if you have mercy on him and consider forgiveness. It will take a strong will and courage for you to do this. You will know if and when you are ready.
“I cannot forgive Hitler. To do so would be folly given his evil acts. So, in some cases is forgiving an act of folly?”
Forgiveness is a moral virtue. All moral virtues (such as justice, patience, kindness, and love-in-service-to-others) are good. Therefore, forgiveness is good. Goodness is not folly. Because forgiveness is part of goodness, it follows that forgiveness cannot be folly.
That said, you may not be ready right now to forgive certain people for certain unjust actions. This does not make you a bad person. Forgiveness does not have the same quality as justice. Certain forms of justice are so important that they are encoded into laws of the state: Do not murder, for example. Forgiveness is not codified into law because it is the person’s choice whether or not to forgive a given person for a given unjust action. So, if you do not want to forgive Hitler for the pain he has caused to you (and he can cause pain to those who were born long after World War II), then you need not do so, and remain a good person.
“Is it harder to forgive if a person is filled with anger compared with another person who is filled with pain and sorrow after being treated unfairly?”
It seems to me that if the anger is very intense and includes resentment or even hatred, then, yes, it is harder to forgive. Some people who are fuming with anger cannot even use the word “forgiveness” because it intensifies the anger. At the same time, if a person has deep sorrow, sometimes there is an accompanying lack of energy and the person needs some time to mourn first. At such times, the person needs to be gentle with the self as emotional healing takes place.
It is normal to feel some anger in the short-term when others act unjustly. It is the long-term anger that can last for decades that can be the problem. That long-term anger can deplete one’s energy and cut into one’s happiness. It is under this circumstance that the unhealthy, long-term anger needs to be addressed and reduced.