Tagged: “emotional forgiveness”

If forgiveness and reconciliation are different, as you have said, then can I forgive and just write off the other in non-reconciliation?

When we forgive, we see the other as a person of worth.  This means that on its deepest level, forgiveness makes room for reconciliation if the other can repent, change harmful ways, and be trusted.  So, even without being able to reconcile with the other because of the other’s entrenched harmful behavior, you can be open to future change in the other.  This does not mean that you do not move on in life.  For example, if your boss and you do not get along at all, you can leave that job and find another.  If the boss changes, you can interact in a kind way and still retain your new job.  In other words, being open to reconciliation does not mean that your roles with one another must remain as you wait for change in the other person.  Your reconciliation in this example would mean kindness and respect toward one another even if your roles with each other (boss and employee) have changed.

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Can I forgive situations?  I read a published work that said if I have a sore knee, I can forgive my knee.  What do you think?

To forgive is to reach out in a merciful way to persons—–to persons.  The essence of forgiveness is to love those who do not love you.  Is your knee a person?  Can you love your knee?  You certainly can take care of your knee, but to love presumes that the other could, at least as a potentiality, love you back.  Can your knee respond to your care by loving you?  I think you can see that it is logically impossible to forgive your knee.

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As a follow-up to my point about punishment as deserved for the one who offended me, isn’t it possible that the punishment could serve as a way of rehabilitating him?

Punishment alone may help to change a person’s behavior at least in the short run, but if this person is deeply hurting from being wounded by others in the past, the residual anger or hatred needs to be healed if the punishment is going to be effective.  With hatred in his heart that is not healed, he may become even more entrenched in making others miserable.  In other words, the punishment, especially if it is excessive and not temperate, could intensify his anger.

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I don’t understand what is so bad about just wanting a person who deeply offends me to suffer punishment in this world.  It is well deserved.

Aristotle reminds us that when we practice the moral virtues, we should avoid practicing any one of them in isolation.  As an example, a courageous non-swimmer who does not bring wisdom along with the courage might decide to jump into a stormy sea to save a drowning dog, only to lose his own life in the process of trying to save the dog.  It is the same with justice being in isolation.  If you are angry with the one who offended you, the kind of punishment that you would want for the other might be too severe and out of balance.  In other words, the virtue of temperance is missing.  If you bring forgiveness alongside justice, then the kind of justice you seek may be less severe and actually more just.  Forgiveness may bring out more clearly the virtue of temperance.

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My counselor informed me that I would be “enabling” my boss if I continued to overlook his impolite actions. I believe he is trying to tell me that I am simply slipping into his hurtful routine without challenging him or offering constructive criticism. So, can forgiving someone else amount to “enabling” his bad behavior?

The question implies that one who extends forgiveness also supports an individual’s unfair actions. That’s essentially the meaning of the word “enabling.” For example, when one partner engages in harmful behavior, such as binge drinking, the other spouse downplays it and even finances the bad behavior. Forgiveness would not be a moral virtue at all if this were the case. That would be a vice. However, for forgiveness to be a moral virtue that involves showing kindness to another person, rather than “enabling,” it should: a) acknowledge injustice for what it is; b) extend mercy without endorsing what the other person is doing; and c) be accompanied by justice so that the other party has a chance to make amends.

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