Tagged: “free will”
Aristotle said that the essence of humanity, that which separates us from the other primates, is our ability to think rationally. While this is true, I think the great Aristotle did not go far enough. I think our essence is to consciously and deliberately, through our free will, love others even when it is painful to do so, and to love in this way for the other’s benefit. The Greek word agape describes this kind of love.
Suppose someone said to you, “Please do not be fair to me. Under no circumstances, you are not to exercise justice to me.” Would you not be fair? Isn’t it your choice to be fair, regardless of the other person’s request? It is the same with forgiveness. You can forgive from the heart, as a free-will decision. You need not verbally proclaim your forgiveness toward the other if this person insists, but your forgiving always is your choice. The key issue here is how you forgive, and that can be done silently, from the heart and in actions that do not proclaim forgiveness.
How can we keep forgiveness initiatives going in schools and social groups, such as correctional institutions?
Yes, and here are two examples. For example 1, the one who might forgive realizes that there really was no injustice. There was, instead, a misunderstanding between two people. Under this condition, forgiving is not a good option. For example 2, the person truly was treated unjustly by another, but this happened very recently. The one considering forgiving is not ready and needs some time to work through the anger. In this case, it may be best to wait, process the anger, and then decide if forgiving is the way to go now. Forgiving is a free will choice and sometimes we need time to process what happened and to examine our inner world before starting to forgive.
As a follow-up to my question about growing in our humanity when we forgive, do you think that our forgiving others can help them grow in their humanity?
The philosophy of virtue-ethics has as one of its major premises that all people have free will. This is the case because, without our free choices in life, we cannot willingly decide, for example, to be just or fair to others. When you forgive someone for unjust behavior, you are giving that person the opportunity to examine that behavior and to change. Yet, because of the premise of free will, it now is up to that person how to grow in fairness. The person will need insight (I did wrong), have inner sorrow (remorse), apologize (repent), and amend the ways that are unfair. Your forgiving will not automatically lead to all of this, but again, you are offering an important opportunity in that direction for the one who offended.