Archive for October, 2023

I’ve gone through the process of forgiveness with a fellow employee at work.  Yet, I do not feel that I have fully forgiven.  In other words, I still have some anger.  Does this mean I have not forgiven?  What do I do in this case?

When we forgive, our anger does not necessarily go away entirely.  You do suggest in your question that your anger has gone down, which is a sign that you are doing well in the forgiveness process.  If you are motivated to do so, you can start once again with this person and continue to forgive.  We sometimes have to do this when deeply hurt by others.

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Is there anything the one who is forgiven owes the one who was harmed and who extended forgiveness?

Yes, the one who offended can attempt to offer apologies if the person who is forgiven is aware of the wrongdoing.  Reconciliation can be facilitated by an apology and an effort to correct the wrongs.

Sometimes the forgiven perceives no wrong in the behavior and believes the forgiver is exaggerating.  In this scenario, the one who has been forgiven may nevertheless express regret by saying, “I’m sorry my actions hurt you,” as a show of goodwill rather than by acknowledging guilt that does not exist.

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How do you go about forgiving a person who hurts you over and over and shows no remorse?

As you imply, it does become harder for most people to forgive those who hurt them over and over.  Yet, it is important to do so, if you choose to forgive, because you then can be healed of the inner discontent and perhaps deep anger.  You are free to forgive unconditionally, regardless or whether or not the person shows remorse.  Forgiveness is up to you and should not be contingent on the other uttering three words: “I am sorry.”

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I refuse to forgive any of the mass murderers of the 20th century.  It seems foolhardy to do so.  Therefore, forgiving can be foolhardy.  What do you think?

It is a moral virtue to forgive. All moral virtues are good, including kindness, patience, fairness, and love-in-service-of-others. Forgiveness is thus a positive response to injustice. Being kind and loving is not foolish. It follows that forgiving cannot be foolishness as it is a component of goodness.

Having said that, I do think there are situations when you might not be ready to forgive someone for unfair behavior. You are not a bad person because of this. Justice and forgiveness are not the same thing. Some kinds of justice are so vital that the state has codified them into laws—don’t murder, for instance. There is no law requiring forgiveness because it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to extend forgiveness to someone for an unfair deed. Therefore, you are free to choose not to forgive “the mass murderers of the 20th century” and carry on being a decent person in spite of the suffering they has caused you (and they can continue inflicting suffering on those who are still directly or indirectly affected by them).

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Should trust be earned slowly and in small increments or can I just trust a person who apologizes to me?

This will depend on how serious the injustice is and on how sincere the apology is.  If the person had a deep injustice against you,such as consistently stealing money from the bank account, you may need to monitor that account for a while, given the consistent nature of the theft.  Also, an apology needs to be sincere with a firm commitment by the other to amend the unjust ways.  This, again, may need time on your part to be sure the apology was sincere.  So, in cases of serious injustice, trust likely will be earned slowly, in increments as you say.

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