Archive for June, 2022
Is a forgiving community even possible for people who have been oppressed by injustice? Don’t we have to validate the injustice and even overcome it first?
One can validate oppression by acknowledging it and calling it what it is: unfair. One can own one’s legitimate anger over the oppression. Yet, if one waits to actually solve the injustice before forgiving, then those who are oppressing win twice: once with original and ongoing oppression and second by having the oppressed people living under a constant state of unhealthy anger or resentment. That resentment, over time, might be so strong as to destroy individuals and families within that oppressed community. Forgiveness without a correction of the injustice at the very least solves that one problem of destructive resentment.
I was talking recently with a person who has been in law enforcement. He said that forgiveness in this context may not be effective because those in law enforcement have more of an emphasis on such virtues as courage and heroism. Forgiveness, he said, seems too weak of a virtue for his group. What do you think?
Forgiveness too often is misunderstood as weakness. Yet, what other moral virtue (whether it is justice or kindness or patience) is more heroic than forgiveness, which asks the forgiver to stand in the pain and from that position to offer goodness toward the one who injured the forgiver? This issue of deliberately being good to those who are not good to the forgiver is heroic. The person is committing to do no harm to the one who offended, and for that person’s good. This is strength, not weakness, especially when we realize that the one who forgives also can ask for justice from the one who has been behaving badly. The quest for justice, then, is likely to be more fair than seeking justice when the injured person is fuming with rage.
I don’t see how a person can get over anger if the other person has moved away. There is no contact anymore. How can one then dialogue about the issue so that the anger diminishes?
Reducing anger is not dependent on having face-to-face contact (or even written or virtual contact) with the other person. Reducing the anger is a matter of the heart. You can begin thinking about the other person in new ways, seeing this person’s vulnerabilities and eventually even seeing the person’s built-in worth. You can do this for people who are not with you now, even for those who are deceased.
I do not like my job because of over-bearing demands from my supervisor. I cannot leave my current position just yet. Will forgiving even help me develop a better relationship with the supervisor?
When we forgive, we do not necessarily get the best result of a whole and fair relationship. If you forgive your supervisor, which I do recommend if you are ready, then at the very least, your resentment can lessen and so your inner world will not be as disrupted as it might have been. The forgiving may help you to have sufficient energy to apply for other positions if this opportunity arises. Even without justice in the workplace, you are taking steps to guard your inner world.
When I forgive and then look back on what happened to me, do you think that the memories will be more pleasant or am I stuck with bad memories?
When we forgive, we do not forget. We tend to remember in new ways. If you decide to forgive, and when you look back, the memories may not be good in that you see goodness from all involved. You likely still will see unfairness and call it that. The big difference after you forgive is this: When you remember, you will do so with less pain and with more understanding. You still may experience some sadness because of what might have been, but the deep pain of resentment should diminish.