Archive for November, 2023
It seems to me that as people age, they have the potential to become more wise. Yet, why does senseless harm continue for people even when they get older?
You already have hinted at your answer by using the word “potential.” Having potential does not mean that the person realizes and appropriates more gentleness, mercy, and love. These need to be consciously chosen, with correct understanding of what these are, and the continual practice of these so that the person grows in greater proficiency of them. If communities do not emphasize gentleness, mercy, and love, then people may not reflect deeply on them or practice them diligently, thus losing the opportunity for planting these more deeply in families and communities. Surely, this is a great opportunity lost. It is time to put gentleness, mercy, and love more consistently on the table for discussion and implementation.
I don’t get the world and the constant quest by those in power to hurt others rather than forgive. Why is this?
You raise a vital question. You already have hinted at the answer by using the word “power.” It seems to me that “power” has become a norm for too many in positions of leadership. There are at least 2 forms of power: power **for** others and power **over** others. When there is a norm for dominance and the suppression of humility, then the incessant power **over** others can become a subconscious norm in society. We need a conscious and deliberate examination of power **over** others with a deep discussion of how mercy, forgiveness, and humility need to break into the norms of societies fo good. Using power **for** the good of others will create a more just and humane society anywhere in the world, in my opinion.
I find that it is easier to forgive a person only after I first have sought and gotten revenge. I think it is unhealthy to forgive before I have had my revenge. What do you think about that?
I think you are confusing what forgiveness actually is. To forgive is to have mercy on the other. In sharp contrast is revenge in which you deliberately and severely punish the other. Revenge is not even justice because revenge is an intemperate (severe) form of the eye-for-an-eye form of giving back to the other what was unfortunately given to you. If you have sought and completed your intemperate form of justice, then where is the mercy? Try mercy by itself and then ask for a more accurate form of justice. I think you will be better off in terms of your own emotional health if you operate in this way. I think those who hurt you will be better off, too.
I’ve been making an effort to forgive someone who just keeps hurting me. With every new transgression, this person makes me angry again, how can I ever forgive this person?
I get asked this question quite frequently. This is not just you. Please remember that the accumulation of resentment within you may make the hundredth time someone hurts you more painful than the first. This potential for animosity to fester makes forgiveness even more important. Thus, I suggest the following three methods to you:
1) To prevent your resentment from overwhelming you, persevere in your forgiving. Every time this person treats you unfairly and causes you pain, forgive .
2) You will become more adept at forgiving as you practice it repeatedly. Observe how your capacity for forgiveness and your confidence in it are both expanding; you may find that you are able to forgive more quickly and effectively each time.
3) Remind yourself that practicing forgiveness is not something you do in isolation from the other virtues. As you forgive, ask for justice, and do so after you have forgiven again so that you approach the person with less anger.
Suppose that I see the one who hurt me as a wounded person. I do not excuse, but as you say, I “widen the lens” through which I see the other person. Might this be dangerous because, maybe, the offending person now begins to see all of his wounds and interprets these differently than you do. In other words, in seeing his own wounds, maybe now he excuses himself and perpetrated more abuse on you. What do you think?
When you forgive, you need to bring justice alongside the forgiving. In other words, you ask fairness of the other. This asking for fairness should help the other person to not now start excusing his unfair behavior. After all, you would not ask for changes in the person if you are excusing the behavior. To excuse is to see an extenuating circumstance and not a deliberate injustice.