You said earlier to me that when we forgive we do not acquiesce to the other’s demands. May I respectfully disagree on this. I disagree because I have been reading recently and seeing on media videos some people discussing what they call “toxic forgiveness.” To those who use this term, there is an element to forgiveness that is out of balance with fairness. Is it not reasonable for all of us to be aware of how forgiveness can get out of balance to such a degree that it becomes “toxic” for the one who forgives?
I think there is a serious misunderstanding of what forgiveness is and what it is not by people who use the words “toxic forgiveness.” They usually refer to people who “forgive” and then just put up with the unfairness of the other person. This is not an issue of forgiveness at all, but instead of a serious misunderstanding of what forgiveness is. When we forgive, we do not give in to the other’s demands. When this happens, the one who supposedly is “forgiving” is instead deciding to turn away from a fair solution and then is calling this “forgiveness.” Forgiveness as a moral virtue of goodness does not give in to unfairness. Otherwise, it would not be a moral virtue at all. Here is an analogy to make my point clearer. Suppose a person wants to become physically fit. This person walks about 200 steps, then sits down and eats a gallon of ice cream. This occurs every day and the person gains 20 pounds. Suppose now that this person says, “I have tried physical fitness and it is toxic. All it does is put weight on me.” Is it really physical fitness that is the problem, or a distortion of what it truly means to start a physical fitness program? Suppose now that many people start saying that physical fitness is “toxic.” Where does the error lie, with physical fitness itself or with a conceptual distortion, and a serious one at that, regarding what it actually means to engage in physical fitness? It is the same with “toxic forgiveness.” People distort the meaning of forgiveness and then proclaim that forgiveness is “toxic.”