Archive for April, 2022
I hope I am not pressing my point too hard, but you have a book entitled, FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE. If I choose to forgive the COVID virus because it lowers my anger, then it is my choice, right?
Choosing through your own thinking and will to forgive a virus does not mean that you actually are engaging in what forgiveness is in its essence. As an analogy, if a person thinks that eating snow is a good choice for excellent nutrition because it is organic and so has an exclusive diet of snow for 6 months, would this be an example of good nutrition even if the snow-eater insists that it is? There is a very large difference between what forgiveness is and what some people think it is. From your ideas, I do think you are misunderstanding what forgiveness is even though you are using that word.
So, are you saying that forgiveness is something “fixed” that does not change? What about cultural variations of many kinds that center on different beliefs and customs. You seem to be too inflexible in how you view forgiveness.
Forgiveness does have a fixed essence. It is one thing and not whatever people’s subjective impressions are regarding it. To forgive is to try as best one can to be good to those who are not good to the forgiver. There are cultural variations in how this goodness is expressed, but the essence of forgiveness is not changed by these different customs or norms.
So, in your view, one’s subjective views of forgiveness are unimportant. You seem to discount personal opinion.
Subjective views need to be scrutinized relative to what is true about the concept of forgiveness or about many issues in the world. For example, if a person insists that 1 + 1 = 5, should we take that as this person’s truth? I think this would be an act of disrespect for the person as we are not aiding this person to properly know mathematics.
To be sure that I understand you, are you saying that all subjective experiences of forgiveness are irrelevant. Do I understand you correctly?
Actually, no. Subjective views of forgiveness are very important. How a person is feeling needs to be honored, especially when that person is in much pain over what happened. Each person’s subjective experience may be somewhat different in terms of intensity, duration, and kind of emotion experienced when treated badly by others. Yet, if this person now wants to go on a forgiveness path, it is very important that this person understands what forgiveness is and is not so that a wrong path is not chosen. As an example, if someone equates forgiving with summarily dismissing another person as less than human, and nurtures hatred within, this person’s subjective experience will need correction to get on the right forgiveness path.
Viktor Frankl, a psychoanalytic psychologist, imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II, had a direct response to Nietzsche by saying that the primary human force is the Will to Meaning, a will to make sense out of life and particularly out of suffering. Finding meaning, not a specific meaning common to all people, but finding a meaning itself has the survival value. As people think of life as meaningless, then they die. Yet, this contentless Will to Meaning has a contradiction in it. It cannot be opposing Nietzsche’s Will to Power if, in finding meaning, one person’s meaning for life is to gain more influence over another. In other words, Frankl’s deliberately contentless theme of the Will to Meaning must accommodate the content in some people’s minds that the Will to Power is their own personal meaning to life. It is the way the world works, at least as some people try to make meaning out of a cruel world. Yet, Frankl’s view, I think, is a developmentally more sophisticated worldview because it makes room for much more than the brutish vying for dominance and control in the world.
Jesus Christ, in contrast to Nietzsche and Frankl, has a different worldview. It is the Will to Love. Others, of course, have said this, too, but we must be scholarly here and give credit to the original proclamations. This Will to Love consciously repudiates the need to dominate, to seek power. Even if Nietzsche is correct that the Will to Power typifies the untrained, under-developed will of humanity, Christ’s challenge is to overcome that. Nietzsche, in other words, takes what is and mistakenly presumes that this is what ought to be. Frankl, in contrast, takes what is (we are presuming for now that the Will to Power is a natural tendency in humans) and is showing us that we can fill in the blank with other, perhaps better content when we ask, “What is the meaning of life and suffering for me?” Christ, in contrast to Frankl, and in common with Nietzsche, commits to one particular content—in this case, love—as the central Will for humanity.
It seems to me that we have a developmental progression here in terms of a greater fulfillment of humanity, the fulfillment of who we are as persons. We start in the mire of a Will to Power and can do great damage if we stay there, and if the world stays there. The Will to Meaning is a transition in that it takes us out of the inevitability of seeking power. The Will to Love, which honors the life of all, is the highest of these world views. Why? Because it is the only one of the three that is intimately concerned about all life. If humanity will survive, our questing after the Will to Power is a dangerous path because in its conscious, extreme form, it destroys others so that one’s own domain can expand.
To those like Nietzsche who think that love and the equality of persons is a weakened view of humanity, my response is this: How are you distorting the moral virtue of love? How are you misunderstanding it? To love is to help with the survival of all others, not to destroy for one’s own survival, dominance, and control. In the seeking of others’ betterment, one finds vitality and joy and gives the freedom to others to do the same. The Will to Love is the only assurance of survival and the thriving of all, including the self.
Which of these world views will you bring to others today?