Consequences of Forgiving
What is evil? Is it a thing, something in existence? Is it the opposite of good?
Good appears to be embodied in being, in people for example. Goodness has a quality of a thing, something that exists in being. If evil is the opposite of good, then it too exists as a thing in being.
If evil exists as a thing, then God does not exist. Why? Because if God exists and is good, then evil cannot be created and exist, otherwise God is not good. In other words, if God creates evil then we are mistaken that the creator is all good and therefore we are mistaken about the creator-as-creator.
We have four possibilities: 1) God exists and has created evil (a contradiction and so we can dismiss this one); 2) God exists and has not created evil (although it can exist, just not as a created thing); 3) God does not exist (as monotheism describes God) and evil exists as a thing (as goodness exists as a thing). In this case we have a form of ancient Manichaeism which suggested a struggle between good (as a spiritual thing, but not with the attributes of the monotheistic God) and evil (as a material thing). Augustine of Hippo eventually came to dismiss this premise because this way of living condoned evil (after all, if it exists alongside good, and defines the physical world, it cannot be all that bad); or 4) neither exists.
So, the two premises with the fewest contrary or contradictory aspects are #2 and 4: God exists and evil is not a thing (a creation of a good creator), or God does not exist (with the attributes as outlines by monotheistic theology) and evil does not exist other than perhaps as an illusion.
We will develop point #2 and allow atheists/materialists to voice their view in #4.
If evil is not a thing, then what is it? Augustine of Hippo solved this problem (of whether or not evil exists) by arguing that evil exists as the absence of good. It is not an opposite thing to good. Instead it is the absence of that which is good. (We are not saying that people are evil. Instead, we are interested in evil as evil and not as embodied or not in persons.)
If evil exists, then, how does it continue to exist? How is it perpetuated? I think evil continues to exist as viruses continue to exist: Each has to seek a host on which to prey to continue in existence. In other words, evil must somehow (the mechanism of this need not concern us here) have an effect upon good so that it ceases to be good or at least fully good. It invades good, in a certain sense. (As a virus cannot be 100% effective in destroying all hosts lest it become extinguished, evil cannot be 100% effective lest it has no more hosts).
To continue to exist, a virus then needs to continually inhabit other hosts. Evil, then, must go from the goodness in one being to another being. Evil has to spread to continue in existence.
I think that resentment is a primary mechanism for evil to continually find new hosts in which to exist. Why? Because resentment is the seed of rage and revenge. If we can destroy the mechanism by which evil seeks new hosts, then evil is destroyed (because it no longer can jump from host to host, as a virus does.)
Forgiveness is the means by which resentment no longer exists. Forgiveness, therefore, destroys the pathway of evil from one person to another. Forgiveness stops the spread of the disease of evil as sound hygiene stops the spread of viruses.
Forgiveness not only provides the mechanism by which evil no longer can spread from host to host but also forgiveness stops the effects of evil within any one host (person). Forgiveness eradicates the resentment (with its concomitant anger, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and hopelessness) destroying the effects of evil.
Forgiveness, then, has a vital role to play in destroying both evil itself and the effects of evil.
Long live forgiveness. Is forgiveness a thing? We will ponder this one another time. Well, ok, here is the answer: Good exists as a thing. Forgiveness is part of the good. Therefore, forgiveness exists as a thing. If forgiveness exists as a thing, then what is it? From the viewpoint of monotheistic theology, it is an attribute of God and is therefore a thing. Atheists, you may come in with a different viewpoint, which we will respectfully consider.
We just received this beautifully-stated image from someone recovering from abuse through practicing forgiveness:
“I have always viewed my recovery work like studying a tapestry. In the beginning, I stood up close, with all of my attention on the threads of abuse, which prevented me from seeing the full beauty of the tapestry. I thought with an up close view, I would be able to unravel the pain that it caused me. With each step in recovery, I am able to step back from the threads of abuse, and see a grander view of the tapestry that is my life. Each time I make progress, I allow the abuse to fade into the background of the tapestry. The abuse is becoming a fiber in the background, which is how everyone, but me, has viewed my life.”
This person is more than each strand of abuse suffered. There is a beautiful tapestry of this life to be seen and appreciated.
Thank you for the email. Thank you for the courage to heal through forgiveness.
Are you looking for peace? Do not insist that peace will come only if the other is peaceful toward you. You ultimately do not have control over the other.
Are you looking for peace? Please do not presume that it will never come just because it is not here today.
Are you looking for peace? Are you willing to suffer first for it by bearing the pain that has come your way? The more you run from the pain, the faster it runs to keep up with you.
Are you looking for peace? Look first to serve the one who has hurt you. Shine the light on the other, not on yourself. Be merciful toward him even when the world tells you to retaliate.
Are you looking for peace? First abandon the quest for peace within as your primary goal. Be a servant to others first in the hope that their peace increases….and then the inner peace is likely to come when you least expect it.
The more you give mercy to others, the more peace you will find within and perhaps even between and among you.
…….if when you look inside you do not like yourself anymore;
…….if when you look inside you find rust where you used to see sparkle;
…….if when you look inside you no longer find hope…….
Please know this…….
Forgiveness is your energizer;
Forgiveness is your self-esteem bolster;
Forgiveness is your emotional rust-inhibitor;
Forgiveness gives you hope.
Come, together, let us do some spring cleaning of your heart.
The first step is this: Commit to forgiving, to reducing resentment and offering goodness toward those who have cluttered the rooms of your heart.
The second step is this: Commit to doing no harm to those who have soiled your inner world and did not stay around long enough to clean up after themselves.
Forgiveness will be your servant. Forgiveness will make tidy the rooms of your heart.
When we are treated deeply unjustly by others, we have a tendency to be wounded in at least eight ways. First is the injustice itself. Second is the emotional reaction, such as considerable anger or frustration or sadness. Third, we sometimes feel shame because others are looking and wondering. Fourth, all of the above can make us tired. Fifth, we sometimes can’t stop thinking about what happened. Sixth, as we compare ourselves to the one who hurt us, we see ourselves as coming up short. Seventh, we sometimes have to make unwanted changes in our lives. And eighth, we drift into pessimism.
Suppose further that 5 other people have hurt you 10 times each……just wait a minute., please….doing the math here……That is 400 more wounds. Adding the first person who hurt you to the other five who hurt you and look. You are carrying around at least 560 wounds inside of you.
Injustice has a way of making us round-shouldered if you think about it. But be of good cheer. Forgiveness properly practiced can eliminate most of these wounds, allowing you to stand up straight perhaps for the first time in years.
Do the math…..then please consider forgiving.