Tagged: “Anger”

I am disappointed with my partner, who was recently fired from his job. The company administrators did all they could to stay afloat, but in the end, they had to close the door. Should I forgive my partner because I am disappointed with this outcome?

It’s understandable that you are disappointed with your partner’s recent job loss. It is important, however, to differentiate between an unfortunate situation that is not an injustice and a genuine injustice that is unfair. In this case, it seems your partner’s actions were not unjust, making forgiveness unnecessary. Instead, consider focusing on acceptance of the situation and providing support during this challenging transition. It is important to realize that your partner likely is feeling disappointed, too.

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I recently heard the idea that to forgive is to show disrespect toward an unfair person. The point was this: The other needs to be given a chance to repent and change behavior. Forgiveness seems to just wrap up everything, with no chance for the offender to change. What do you think about this criticism?

We actually have given a response to this criticism on this website here:

https://internationalforgiveness.com/2018/01/14/criticisms-of-forgiveness-forgiving-as-disrespectful-to-the-offender-2/

As you will see, we disagree with the criticism.

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You have a number of markers for forgiveness such as the Decision Phase and various aspects in the Work Phase of forgiveness, as examples.  What if a person is unsure that she has actually mastered these markers?  How can a person know that she has forgiven?

People know, at least in part, that they are successful in forgiving by the internal progress they are making with their hearts, with their level of resentment toward the other person and their level of compassion toward that person. If deep resentment remains, the person could consider revising some of the earlier markers toward which she still has difficulty and work on them again.

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As we know, it is common for parents to ask a misbehaving child to “say you are sorry” to the other child.  He, the offended one, then is expected to say, “I forgive you.”  For minor infractions, do you think this is sufficient, or should parents do more?

Even for minor infractions, it is best to ask the offended child if he is ready to forgive.  Let the forgiveness come from the child so that he is drawn to forgiveness rather than feeling pressured into it.  If the child needs some time, that is all right.  The key is to help children know that they have agency with regard to their willingness and ability to forgive when hurt by others.  Even with regard to the offending child, a command to “say you are sorry” may have to await a cooling down period so that this child, too, is drawn to seeking forgiveness rather than feeling pressured into it.

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‘Racialized’ Forgiveness?

An author, Myisha Cherry, in the journal, Hypatia in 2021, made the claim that under certain circumstances, forgiveness becomes “racialized.”  In her words in that article:

“Cases that exemplify certain conditions that I take as paradigmatic of the problem of racialized forgiveness includes instances in which: A. Who is forgiven or not is (overtly or tacitly) determined by the race of the offender. B. Praise and criticisms of forgiveness are determined by the race of the victim. C. Praise and criticisms of forgiveness are, at least implicitly, racially self-serving.”

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Yet, we would have preferred that the two words, “racialized” and “forgiveness” were not put together because there are no such aspects of true forgiveness.  A more appropriate pairing of words would be “racialized pseudo-forgiveness” or “racialized false forgiveness” because that is what is happening.  Aristotle reminded us that any moral virtue is bounded by two vices, one which is an under-representation (for example, in the case of forgiveness the person exhibits moral weakness in which others dominate the one who is trying to forgive) and one that is an excess of the virtue (in the case of forgiving, the one who supposedly forgives is actually using forgiveness as a weapon to dominate others).  “Racialized false forgiveness” actually is a vice, not a moral virtue, in which the person uses forgiveness to dominate others.  This, of course, is not forgiveness at all and it should be recognized as such.  To equate “racialized forgiveness” with the true form of forgiveness is philosophically incorrect.  Dr. Cherry has a book-length work (Failures of Forgiveness, 2023) in which she continues with these ideas.  It is good that she is pointing out this excess of forgiveness, but in the future, this needs to be classified not as the moral virtue of forgiveness but as a distortion of it.

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